129 dead after fans stampede to exit Indonesian soccer match
JAKARTA (Reuters) – More than 1,000 people were killed in a stampede as fans from a soccer match between Indonesia’s two biggest teams fought to leave a stadium where the police fired tear gas and batons in protest of their behavior, officials said on Thursday.
The tragedy on Wednesday evening occurred during a semi-final game of the 2015 AFC Champions League, which was being held at Arena Merdeka, near the capital Jakarta, and was originally expected to finish in the early hours on Thursday.
Indonesian media said at least 90 people died, while sports minister Budi Karya Sumadi put the number at more than 400.
Police chief Tito Karnavian identified the dead as 17 children, the names of three adults who died were not immediately released.
A police officer told reporters all the dead were from the crowd, which included many teenagers, and police had found no evidence of a terrorist attack.
But the president, Joko Widodo, summoned the home minister to express his condolences to the victims’ family.
“We deeply mourn their deaths,” said Widodo, whose father was an Indonesian soccer legend, former national coach and sports executive.
The president also ordered the search for a person responsible for the violence.
The stampede was one of four such incidents in the last two years in Indonesia and the worst since a similar disturbance killed more than 3,000 people in 2002 when fans clashed with police during a soccer match in the capital.
The police action was widely criticised and many football fans took to the streets, burning tyres, tearing down banners and smashing windows of bars and cafes that catered to soccer fans.
Many of the dead were among the injured after the police fired water cannons at the stadium where the match was being played. Hundreds had already left the stadium.
Police said they had arrested more than 900 people for criminal damage and public nuisance in the ensuing chaos as scores of others