174 dead after fans scramble to leave football match in Indonesia

Some suffocated and others were stomped on as hundreds of people ran for the exit to avoid tear gas. In the chaos, 34 people died at the stadium, including two officers, and some reports include children among the victims.

“We have already taken preemptive action before finally firing tear gas as (fans) started attacking the police, acting haphazardly and setting fire to vehicles,” said East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta, during a press conference early Sunday.

More than 300 people were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment of their injuries, but many died en route and during treatment, Afinta said.

East Java Deputy Governor Emil Dardak told Kompas TV in an interview on Sunday that the death toll had risen to 174, while more than 100 injured were receiving intensive care at eight hospitals without any charges, including 11 in a critical condition.

Indonesia’s football association, known as PSSI, has suspended the premier football league Liga 1 indefinitely in light of the tragedy and banned Arema from hosting football matches for the remainder of the season.

Television reports showed police and rescuers evacuating the injured and transporting the dead to ambulances.

Grieving relatives were awaiting information about their loved ones at Saiful Anwar General Hospital in Malang. Others tried to identify the bodies deposited in a morgue.

On Sunday, police are investigating next to a burnt-out vehicle outside Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java.PUTRI / AFP – Getty Images

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his heartfelt condolences for the dead during a televised address on Sunday.

“I deeply regret this tragedy and hope this is the last football tragedy in this country, don’t let another human tragedy like this happen in the future,” Widodo said. “We must continue to uphold the sportsmanship, humanity and sense of brotherhood of the Indonesian nation.”

He ordered the Minister of Youth and Sports, the Chief of the National Police and the President of the PSSI to carry out a thorough assessment of the country’s football match and its security procedure.

He also ordered PSSI to temporarily suspend La Liga 1 until it can be assessed and security procedures improved.

Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali also expressed regret that “this tragedy happened while we were preparing for football match activities, both domestically and internationally.”

Malang local police chief Ferli Hidayat said there were some 42,000 spectators at the match on Saturday, all Aremanias because the organizer banned Persebaya fans from entering the stadium to avoid the fights.

The restriction was imposed after clashes between fans of the two rival football teams in East Java’s Blitar Stadium in February 2020 caused a total of 250 million rupees ($18,000) in material losses. Fights were reported outside the stadium during and after the East Java Governor’s Cup semi-final match, which ended with Persebaya beating Arema 4-2.

Despite Indonesia’s lack of international accolades in sport, hooliganism is rampant in the football-obsessed country where fanaticism often ends in violence, such as the 2018 death of a Persija Jakarta fan who was killed by a mob of die-hard fans of rival club Persib Bandung. in 2018.

Saturday’s game is already among the worst crowd disasters in the world, including the 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City, where more than 80 people died and more than 100 others were injured. In April 2001, more than 40 people were crushed to death during a football match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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