At least 125 dead after riot, stampede breaks out at Indonesian soccer match

At least 125 people are dead and 180 more were injured after an Indonesian soccer match Saturday when police tried to quell a fan riot with tear gas and wound up setting off a stampede, according to authorities.

Thousands of Arema FC supporters rushed the field after their team suffered a 3-2 loss to rival Persebaya and demanded that Arema management tell them why they lost the match, according to witnesses who spoke to The Associated Press.

“It had gotten anarchic. They started attacking officers, they damaged cars,” police Chief Nico Afinta of Malang, East Java, told reporters on Sunday morning, according to Reuters. At least five police vehicles were reportedly flipped over and set ablaze outside the stadium.

That’s when officers on the scene fired tear gas into the stadium’s crowd to disperse them, triggering a stampede for the exits where hundreds of people were trampled. Others suffocated from the tear gas.

Chief Afinta told media on scene that more than 300 people were rushed to hospitals for their injuries but many died on the way and during treatment.

Some children and police officers were included in the reported death toll, which East Java Deputy Gov. Emil Dardak and the local disaster agency put as high as 174, according to Reuters. The local health agency revised the death toll to 125.

Tear gas as a crowd control method is banned by FIFA.

“I deeply regret this tragedy and I hope this is the last soccer tragedy in this country. Don’t let another human tragedy like this happen in the future,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Sunday in a televised address.

He also ordered the sport’s governing body in Indonesia to temporarily suspend league competition until an investigation into security procedures can be completed.

The stadium had oversold tickets to the rivalry match, with paid attendance being 42,000 and the stadium’s capacity capped at 38,000, according to CNN.

The casualties make Saturday’s game one of the world’s worst crowd disasters, along with the 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica, where more than 80 died and 100 others were injured.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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