At least 125 people died on Saturday night in a stadium in
Indonesia, after angry fans invaded the pitch and police responded with tear gas, sparking a stampede, authorities said on Sunday, revising a previous balance sheet downward.
The tragedy occurred in the eastern city of Malang left dozens of wounded and it is one of the world’s worst recorded stadium disasters.
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The authorities revised down the balance of victims from 174 to 125, explaining that some deceased had been counted more than once. “The balance is for the moment of 125 dead. 124 bodies were identified, one remains to be identified.
Some names were registered twice because some people were referred to other hospitals and registered twice,” the deputy governor of the province of East Java, Emil Dardak.
followers of the Arema F.C. invaded the Karnjurhan Stadium pitch after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, the first loss to his archrival in more than two decades. Police tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two police officers were killed. Many of the victims were trampled to death or suffocated, according to authorities.
Several survivors described how panicked spectators crowded in as tear gas was fired at them.
“The police fired tear gas and automatically people ran to get out, pushing each other, and that caused many victims,” he told AFP. Doni, a 43-year-old viewer who declined to reveal his last name.
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The Indonesian President Joko Widodo, ordered on Sunday to review the security in the stadiums after the tragedy. In a televised message, Widodo ordered the Minister of Sport and Youth, the National Police and the local football association “to carry out a thorough evaluation of football matches and security procedures.”
The director of a hospital told a local television that among the victims is a five-year-old boy. Images captured inside the stadium during the stampede showed large amounts of tear gas and people climbing fences.
Amnesty International called for an investigation into why tear gas was used in a closed space.
“Tear gas should only be used to disperse crowds when there is widespread violence or when other methods have failed. People should be warned that tear gas will be used to allow them to disperse,” it said in a statement.
Persistent violence in the stadiums
Other images released on social networks show people yelling obscenities at the police, who were protecting themselves with shields.
The stadium has a capacity for 42,000 people and according to the authorities it was full. The Police indicated that some 3,000 people invaded the court. Vehicles set on fire, including a police truckremained outside the stadium on Sunday morning.
The Indonesian Minister of Sport and Youth, Zainudin Amali, he apologized for the incident and promised to investigate the circumstances of the stampede.
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“We regret this incident (…) unfortunate that it ‘harms’ our football at a time when fans can go to the stadium to watch the games,” he told the Kompas network. The president of the International Football Federation (Fifa) Gianni Infantino, described what happened as “tragedy beyond imagination.”
The Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) suspended soccer matches for a week, banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the rest of the season and announced it will send an investigative team to Malang to determine the causes of the tragedy.
Similarly, the president of the Asian Football Confederation, Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa, said he was “deeply moved” by the tragedy that occurred in Indonesia, “a country that loves football.”
Indonesia plans to host the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May in six stadiums in the country. The one from Malang is not included in the tournament. The matches of the Spanish soccer league this Sunday will be preceded by a minute of silence “to show condolences to the Indonesian people,” the league and the Spanish federation (RFEF) said in a statement.
Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where fierce rivalries have sparked numerous deadly clashes. Some games get so heated that players from big teams have to travel to games under heavy protection.
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