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Over 125 Lives Lost in Football Stadium Stampede in Malang, Indonesia

Over 125 people lost their lives and several were injured in a riot and stampede that escalated quickly in an Indonesian football stadium. 

The tragedy that unfolded on Saturday night on October 1st in the eastern city of Malang was one of the deadliest of its kind.

Police in the East Java province said that Arema FC fans in their thousands stormed the stadium when their team lost to Persebaya Surabaya. In a quest to seemingly disperse the massive angry crowds which led to riots, the police fried tear gas, which ultimately led to a stampede as terrified fans fled towards the exit gate. 

The firing of tear gas triggered a stampede as panicked fans rushed to an exit gate.

Some were choked in the chaos while others were trampled to death. At least 34 people, including two police officers, died at the stadium.

The harrowing footage from local news channels showed fans pouring into the stadium in Malang. Smoke was also visible which appeared to be tear gas in the air. Surfaced images showed people who fainted in the chaos and were being rushed out by other fans. 

A hospital director told local television that one of the victims was five years old.

The stadium has a capacity to hold 42,000 people and authorities stated that the event was a sell-out. According to the local police, roughly 3000 people plundered into the stadium. At least five police vehicles were also reported to be torched.

One survivor said to AFP “Officers fired tear gas, and automatically people were rushing to come out, pushing each other. Nothing was happening, there was no riot. I don’t know what the issue was, they suddenly fired tear gas. That’s what shocked me, didn’t they think about kids, women?”

President Joko Widodo later called for an investigation and a safety review into all football matches and directed the country’s football association to suspend all matches until “security improvements” were completed.

“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this football tragedy will be the last in our country,” Widodo said.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino also said the football world was “in a state of shock”.

“All our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, those who have been injured, together with the people of the Republic of Indonesia,” he added.

The violence instigated by fans is a persisting problem in Indonesia, for a strong rivalry between clubs is quite prevalent.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA specifies in its safety regulations that no firearms or “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police. East Java police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they were aware of such regulations.

Amnesty International has condemned the utilization of tear gas in a stadium and urged the authorities to  “conduct a swift, thorough, and independent investigation”  and “ensure that those who are found to have committed violations are tried in open court and do not merely receive internal or administrative sanctions”.

Usman Hamid, the executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia said in a statement, “This loss of life cannot go unanswered.”

The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) said it would send its own investigation team to Malang to establish the cause of the stampede. It also banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the rest of the season.

“We’re sorry and apologize to the families of the victims and all parties over the incident,” PSSI Chairman Mochamad Iriawan said.

The stampede tragedy in Indonesia occurred in the wake of the country having to host FIFA U-20 World Cup in May and June next year. The country is also one of the top three to bid for the stage for next year’s Asian cup after China withdrew from hosting.

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  • Zamena Manekia Manji

    Zamena Manekia Manji is a breaking news writer for TMJ News with experience of over 10 years in the field. Her areas of focus are important breaking stories in North America specifically untold stories from a minority lens.

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