At least 174 people were feared killed and 180 injured in a stampede and riot at a soccer match in Indonesia, officials said on Sunday, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.
East Java police chief Nico Afinta told reporters that the trouble started when angry home team supporters broke into the field late on Saturday in Malang. Then, cops used tear gas to try to contain the situation, which caused a stampede and incidences of suffocation.
“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers; they even damaged cars,” Nico said, adding that the crush occurred when fans fled for an exit gate.
Around 10p.m., after Arema’s 3-2 loss to Persebaya Surabaya, video from local news channels showed fans flooding onto the field. There were visible scuffles and what appears to be tear gas in the air.
Images showed spectators dragging away individuals who appeared to have lost consciousness.
A five-year-old child was among the dead, according to the director of one of the local hospitals caring for patients. He also revealed that some of the casualties had suffered brain injuries.
Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, urged officials to carefully assess match security; and expressed the hope that this would be “the last soccer tragedy in the country.”
The president also gave the Football Association of Indonesia the order to halt all matches in the BRI Liga 1—Indonesia’s highest league—until an inquiry was finished.