Deadly stampede at Indonesian football Stadium

The death toll is likely to increase in wake of the stampede and riot at Kanjuruhan Stadium in eastern city of Malang.

At least 125 people have been killed in a stampede at a football stadium in Indonesia’s eastern city of Malang, one of the deadliest sports disasters in the world.

The death toll was revised down to 125, according to East Java Vice Governor Emil Dardak, who said that some names were recorded twice. Earlier officials had put the figure as high as 174.

Riots broke out after the game ended on Saturday evening, with host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city losing to Persebaya of Surabaya 3-2.

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Disappointed after their team’s loss, thousands of Arema supporters, known as “Aremania,” reacted by throwing bottles and other objects at players and football officials. Fans flooded the Kanjuruhan Stadium pitch in protest and demanded that Arema management explain why, after 23 years of undefeated home games, this match ended in a loss, witnesses said.

A victim’s relative cries as she waits at the Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang. [Trisnadi/AP Photo]

The rioting spread outside the stadium where at least five police vehicles were toppled and set ablaze amid the chaos. Riot police responded by firing tear gas, including towards the stadium’s stands, causing panic among the crowd. Tear gas is banned at football stadiums by FIFA.

Some fans suffocated and others were trampled as hundreds of people ran to the exit in an effort to avoid the tear gas. In the chaos, 34 died at the stadium, including two officers, and some reports include children among the casualties.

“We have already done a preventive action before finally firing the tear gas as [fans] began to attack the police, acting anarchically and burning vehicles,” said East Java Police chief Nico Afinta in a news conference early on Sunday.

Afinta said the death toll is likely to increase because many of the approximately 180 injured who are receiving intensive treatments at various hospitals are in critical condition.

Indonesia’s football association, PSSI, has suspended the premier football league Liga 1 indefinitely in light of the tragedy and banned Arema from hosting football matches for the remainder of the season.

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