Soccer Stampede Leaves More Than 170 Dead


Panic and a chaotic run for exits after police fired tear gas at an Indonesian soccer match left at least 174 dead, most of whom were trampled upon or suffocated, making it one of the deadliest sports events in the world. Attention immediately focused on the police use of tear gas, which is banned at soccer stadiums by FIFA. President Joko Widodo expressed shock at the tragedy and ordered an investigation of security procedures. Riots broke out after the game ended Saturday evening with host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city losing to Persebaya of Surabaya 3-2, per the AP.

Disappointed with their team’s loss, thousands of supporters of Arema, known as “Aremania,” reacted by throwing bottles and other objects at players and soccer officials. Witnesses said fans flooded the Kanjuruhan Stadium pitch and demanded that Arema management explain why, after 23 years of undefeated home matches against rival Persebaya, this one ended in a loss. The violence spread outside the stadium where at least five police vehicles were toppled and set ablaze. Riot police responded by firing tear gas, including toward the stadium’s stands, causing panic among the crowd.

Some suffocated and others were trampled as hundreds of people ran to the exit to avoid the tear gas. In the chaos, 34 died at the stadium, including two officers, and some reports include children among the casualties. East Java police chief Nico Afinta said officers fired tear gas when people began “acting anarchically and burning vehicles,” and attacking police. More than 300 were rushed to hospitals but many died on the way, Afinta said. East Java’s Vice Gov. Emil Dardak said the death toll had climbed to 174, while more than 100 injured people were receiving intensive treatment in eight hospitals, 11 of them in critical condition.

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