MALANG, Indonesia (CelebrityAccess) — At least 125 people were killed and more than 320 people were injured after police fired tear gas to clear fans from a soccer pitch following a match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya at Kanjuruhan Stadium on Sunday.
According to the Associated Press, more than 42,000 fans were in attendance for the game, which saw home team Arema FC lose their first game to Persebaya Surabaya in 29 years.
Fan-recorded video appears to show a crowd surging onto the field as players are rushed to safety. Witnesses describe police officers in riot gear beating them with sticks before firing tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowd, prompting a stampede.
“Officers fired tear gas directly at spectators in the stands, forcing us to run toward the exit,” witness Ahmad Fatoni told the AP. “Many victims fell because of shortness of breath and difficulty seeing due to tear gas and were trampled.”
East Java police chief Nico Afinta defended using tear gas to attempt to clear the crowd, stating at a press conference that five police cars were toppled and burned outside of the stadium.
“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,” he told reporters in a press conference on Sunday.
Reuters reported that 125 people have died during the chaotic incident, including 34 people inside of the stadium. 320 people were wounded with more than 100 receiving intensive treatment in local hospitals, 11 of them in critical condition, police sources said.
Indonesian soccer association PSSI announced premier soccer league Liga 1 has been suspended indefinitely and banned Kanjuruhan Stadium from hosting games for the rest of the season.
“The football world is in a state of shock following the tragic incidents that have taken place in Indonesia at the end of the match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya at the Kanjuruhan Stadium,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said.
“This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following this tragic incident,” he added. “Together with FIFA and the global football community, all our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, those who have been injured, together with the people of the Republic of Indonesia, the Asian Football Confederation, the Indonesian Football Association, and the Indonesian Football League, at this difficult time.”
For a deeper look at crowd safety, read Larry LeBlanc’s interview with social psychologist John Drury.