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    Over 130 dead after stampede in Indonesian football match

    MALANG, Indonesia (AP) — Panic and a chaotic run for exits after police fired tear gas at an Indonesian football match to drive away rampaging fans left at least 174 dead, most of whom were trampled upon or suffocated, making it one of the deadliest sports events in the world.

    Soccer fans enter the pitch during a clash between supporters at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct 1, 2022. Panic following police actions left over 100 dead, mostly trampled to death, police said Sunday. Photo: AP

    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.

    Disappointed after their team’s loss, thousands of supporters of Arema, known as “Aremania,” reacted by throwing bottles and other objects at players and soccer 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.

    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 toward the stadium’s stands, causing panic among the crowd. Tear gas is banned at soccer stadiums by FIFA.

    Officers examine a damaged police vehicle following a clash between supporters of two Indonesian soccer teams at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct 1, 2022. Panic following police actions left over 100 dead, mostly trampled to death, police said Sunday. Photo: AP

    Some 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 Sunday.

    More than 300 were rushed to nearby hospitals to treat injuries but many died on the way and during a treatment, Afinta said.

    He said the death toll is likely to increase because many of the approximately 180 injured who are receiving intensive treatments at various hospitals were deteriorating.

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

    Television reports showed police and rescuers evacuating the injured and carrying the dead to ambulances.

    Grieving relatives waited for information about their loved ones at Malang’s Saiful Anwar General Hospital. Others tried to identify the bodies laid at a morgue.

    A relative of a victim in the soccer stampede cries as she waits at the Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. Panic at an Indonesian soccer match after police fired tear gas to to disperse supporters invading the pitch left over 100 people dead, mostly trampled to death, police said Sunday. Photo: AP

    Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo expressed his deep condolences for the dead in televised remarks Sunday. “I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last soccer tragedy in this country, don’t let another human tragedy like this happen in the future,” Widodo said. “We must continue to maintain sportsmanship, humanity and a sense of brotherhood of the Indonesian nation.”

    He ordered the Youth and Sports minister, the National Police chief and the PSSI chair to conduct a thorough evaluation of the country’s soccer match and its security procedure.
    He also ordered PSSI to temporarily suspend Liga 1 until it could be evaluated and security procedures improved.

    Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali also expressed his regret that “this tragedy happened when we were preparing for soccer game activities, both national and international level.”

    More details on Monday’s Borneo Bulletin

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