Stampede, Riot at Indonesia Football Game Kill at Least 174: What We Know So Far
Angry fans jumped onto the pitch after the home team, Arema FC, lost the match, leading to a scuffle and stampede.
The stampede was triggered by a scuffle between the security officials and angry fans who jumped onto the pitch after the home team lost the match. According to reports, panicked fans were trampled and crushed trying to flee the scuffle after the police fired tear gas to control the crowd.
In the videos that have since gone viral, fans can be seen jumping onto the pitch after Arema FC lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya.
Riot, Stampede: What Happened?
The incident took place in the stadium in Malang after a match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya. According to a Reuters report, supporters of the losing home team, Arema FC, invaded the pitch to express their frustration and were confronted by officers who fired tear gas to control the situation. The melee triggered a stampede and cases of suffocation as fans fled for an exit gate, East Java police chief Inspector Nico Afinta told reporters.
“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” Afinta said. "We would like to convey that... not all of them were anarchic. Only about 3,000 who entered the pitch."
Viral video footage, played by local news channels, showed Arema FC fans storming the pitch after the loss, tear gas in the air, and scenes of scuffles and stampede. Videos on social media show fans clambering over fences to escape following the scuffle. Visuals also appeared to show lifeless bodies on the floor and unconscious people being carried away by others following the crush.
Indonesia’s chief security minister, Mahfud MD, said that the stadium was filled beyond its capacity. For a stadium that can hold 38,000 people, 42,000 tickets were issued, the minister said in an Instagram post.
Casualties: 174 Dead, 180 Injured
Indonesian news agency Antara News earlier reported, citing authorities, that 129 people, including two police officers, were killed and some 180 others injured.
"In that incident, 127 people have died. Two of them are members of the police," Afinta said. The East Java authorities later updated that the number of deaths increased to 129.
Other publications, however, reported a much higher death toll. BBC said that at least 174 people have died, while The Washington Post, citing a tweet from Arema FC, the home team, said that the toll had risen to 182.
Arema FC tweeted that it was helping to assess the death toll as the casualty numbers “continue to grow.”
According to local reports, some of the victims had sustained brain injuries and that a five-year-old child was among the dead.
Investigation Launched, Matches Suspended
Asserting that the incident had "tarnished the face of Indonesian football,” the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) said it had launched an investigation.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered the PSSI to suspend all games in the Indonesian top league BRI Liga 1 until an investigation is completed.
Indonesia’s human rights commission said it had planned to investigate security at the ground, including the use of tear gas, which is against the FIFA guidelines on safety. FIFA specifies that no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police.
‘Hope This Is the Last Soccer Tragedy’
Offering condolences to the victims and the families, President Widodo said he hoped this would be “the last soccer tragedy in the nation,” as he urged the authorities to thoroughly evaluate security at matches.
The sports ministry is already considering not allowing spectators in stadiums as it re-evaluates safety at football matches, Indonesia’s sports minister Zainudin Amali told KompasTV.
East Java Governor Khofifah announced financial aid to the injured and the families of victims.
The Asian Football Confederation offered condolences with its chief, Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa¸ saying in a statement that he was “deeply shocked and saddened to hear such tragic news coming out of football-loving Indonesia.”
(With inputs from Reuters, BBC, and The Washington Post.)
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