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More than 120 People Killed in Football Stampede in Indonesia

Indonesia football
Videos show fans running onto the pitch after the final whistle. Credit: Video screenshot/YouTube/El Pais

At least 129 people died in a stampede at a football match in Indonesia on Saturday, after police tear-gassed rioting supporters, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.

About 180 were injured in the crash after Arema FC lost to bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya in East Java.

When supporters of the losing home team invaded the pitch to express their frustration, officers fired tear gas in an attempt to control the situation, triggering a stampede and cases of suffocation, East Java police chief Nico Afinta told reporters.

“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” Nico said, adding that the crush occurred when fans fled for an exit gate.

The head of one of the hospitals in the area treating patients told Metro TV that some of the victims had sustained brain injuries and that the dead included a five-year-old child, Reuters reports.

Football games postponed in Indonesia

Indonesia’s human rights commission planned to investigate security at the ground, including the use of tear gas, its commissioner told Reuters.

The country’s chief security minister, Mahfud MD, said in an Instagram post that the stadium had been filled beyond its capacity. He said 42,000 tickets had been issued for a stadium that is only supposed to hold 38,000 people.

There have been outbreaks of trouble at matches in Indonesia before, with strong rivalries between clubs sometimes leading to violence among supporters.

Zainudin Amali, Indonesia’s sports minister, told KompasTV the ministry would re-evaluate safety at football matches, including considering not allowing spectators in stadiums.

The Indonesian top league BRI Liga 1 has suspended games for a week and an investigation had been launched, the Football Association of Indonesia said.

Among global stadium disasters, 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death in Britain in April 1989, when an overcrowded and fenced-in enclosure collapsed at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, Reuters says.

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