JAKARTA — At least 127 people died at a football stadium in Indonesia late yesterday when fans invaded the pitch and police responded with tear gas, triggering a stampede, officials said.
Arema FC supporters at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the eastern city of Malang stormed the pitch after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, the first loss in more than two decades to their bitter rival.
Police, who characterised the unrest as “riots”, tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas into the stands after two officers were killed. Many of the victims were trampled to death.
“In the incident, 127 people died, two of whom are police officers. Thirty-four people died inside the stadium and the rest died in hospital,” East Java police chief Nico Afinta said in a statement today.
“They went out to one point at the exit. Then there was a buildup, in the process of accumulation there was shortness of breath, lack of oxygen,” he said.
The Indonesian government apologised for the incident and promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the stampede.
“We’re sorry for this incident… this is a regrettable incident that ‘injures’ our football at a time when supporters can watch football matches from the stadium,” Indonesian Sports and Youth Minister Zainudin Amali told broadcaster Kompas.
“We will thoroughly evaluate the organisation of the match and the attendance of supporters. Will we return to banning supporters from attending the matches? That is what we will discuss. — AFP