At least 125 people have died in a stampede and riot at a football match in Indonesia, in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters.
The crush took place in the aftermath of home team Arema FC’s loss to bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya at the overcrowded stadium late on Saturday in Malang, East Java.
Police officers fired tear gas in an attempt to control the situation, triggering the 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.
“We would like to convey that… not all of them were anarchic. Only about 3,000 who entered the pitch,” he said.
Fleeing fans “went out to one point at the exit. Then there was a build-up, in the process of accumulation there was shortness of breath, lack of oxygen”, the officer added.
Video footage from local news channels showed fans streaming onto the pitch after Arema FC lost 3-2 around 10pm local time. Scuffles can be seen, with what appeared to be tear gas in the air.
FIFA states that no “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police at matches.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said it was “a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension”.
President Joko Widodo has ordered that all matches in Indonesia’s top league must be stopped until an investigation has been carried out.
The Indonesian football association (PSSI) said it had launched an investigation, adding that the incident had “tarnished the face of Indonesian football”.
On Sunday, mourners gathered outside the gates of the stadium to lay flowers for the victims.
Amnesty International Indonesia slammed the security measures, saying the “use of excessive force by the state … to contain or control such crowds cannot be justified at all”.
Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD posted on Instagram that 42,000 tickets had been sold for the match at Kanjuruhan stadium, which has a stated capacity of 38,000.
The stampede is one of the worst of a tragically long line of stadium disasters.
The Malang stadium disaster appeared to be the deadliest since 1964, when 328 people were reported dead in a riot and crush when Peru hosted Argentine at the Estadio Nacional.