At least 174 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.
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.
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.
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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