A football match in Indonesia turned deadly after fans invaded the pitch and forced the police to respond with tear gas, triggering a stampede. At least 129 people were reported dead and over 200 injured following the incident.
According to AFP, the tragedy took place in Kanjuruhan stadium in the eastern city of Malang, Indonesia on Saturday (1 October).
The incident was caused by angry Arema FC supporters who were upset by the team’s loss 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya, the first loss in more than two decades to their bitter rival, stormed the pitch.
The police said they tried to persuade fans to return to the stands but were forced to fire tear gas after two officers were killed.
This then triggered a stampede where many were trampled to death as they tried to rush out of the stadium’s exit.
“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.
Amid the chaos, some were seen putting vehicles on fire, and one of them was a police truck.
Indonesia government apologises
The Indonesian government has since apologised for the incident and promise 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 said to 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.”
Meanwhile, the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) had suspended football matches for one week and banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the rest of the season.
“We’re sorry and apologise to families of the victims and all parties over the incident,” PSSI chairman Mochamad Iriawan said.
Fan violence has been a huge problem in Indonesia, where deep rivalries have preciously turn into deadly confrontations.
Some matches, for example, the Old Indonesia Derby between Persija Jakarta and Persib Bandung, could see their players travelling to away games under heavy protection.