WASHINGTON — At least 125 people have died in a stampede at an East Java, Indonesia, football stadium Saturday night. Another 180 people were injured.
East Java Police Chief Nico Afinta told reporters that two members of the police force are among the victims, most of whom were trampled to death.
Police officials said the death toll had been revised to 125 from 174, after authorities found some of the victims were counted twice.
Police chief Afinta said the Indonesia premier league game had ended with Persebaya beating Arema 3-2. He said Arema supporters — known as Aremania — were unhappy with the outcome and entered the field to chase the Arema players and team.
He said, “Police officers tried to persuade the Aremania to return to the stands but were ignored. We do not know why the crowd became increasingly anarchic, and finally attacked the police too. Finally, police fired tear gas at the crowd.”
Hundreds of supporters of each team ran to exit gates to avoid the tear gas, but many were suffocated and trampled. Hundreds of the injured were rushed to nearby hospitals, but many of them died on the way or during treatment.
The angry crowd also burned 13 police cars and trucks.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a televised speech he regretted the tragedy and had asked the minister of sports, the police chief and the head of the Football Association of Indonesia to evaluate football matches and their security procedures. He also said he ordered a temporary halt to matches until improvements to safety procedures have been completed.
Indonesian Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told VOA that a team will fly from Jakarta to Malang, East Java, to help local police. “The East Java Regional Police are working with New Indonesian League [LIB] as the match operator, and also some related state holders. The National Police Team will leave for Malang this afternoon to back up the East Java Regional Police, to help identify the victims and provide medical assistance to hundreds of injured victims in several hospitals.”
The coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Mohammad Mahfud Mahmodin, commonly known as Mahfud MD, said in an Instagram post Sunday that the number of spectators exceeded the capacity of the Kanjuruhan stadium.
“The apparatus had asked the organizer to hold the match in the afternoon [not at night], and said the number of spectators must be adjusted to the stadium’s capacity of 38,000 people. But the proposals were not carried out… the match was still held at night and the number of tickets sold was 42,000.”