At least 125 people have died in a stampede after tear gas fired by police sparked panic among fans rioting after a soccer match in Indonesia, in one of the worst sporting tragedies in the world.
Attention immediately focused on the police use of tear gas, which is banned at soccer stadiums by FIFA, the world soccer body, which called the incident “a tragedy beyond comprehension.”
Some suffocated and others were trampled in the crush as fans rushed to the exits following violence after the game Saturday evening at a stadium in the city of Malang, in East Java province.
Hosts Arema FC lost to visiting side Persebaya FC 3-2, with thousands of angry supporters throwing bottles and other objects at players and soccer officials. Witnesses said fans flooded the Kanjuruhan Stadium pitch and demanded that Arema management explain why, after 23 years of undefeated home matches against rival Persebaya, this one ended in a loss.
Riot police responded by firing tear gas, including toward the stadium’s stands, causing panic among the crowds of fans.
At least 34 people died at the stadium, including two officers, officials said, and some reports include children among the casualties.
“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last soccer tragedy in this country,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in a televised speech Sunday.