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At least 125 dead in soccer stadium stampede in Indonesia

By Allen Cone
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Soccer fans rush onto the field as military personnel try to stop them after a match at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, on Saturday night. Photo by H. Prabowo/EPA-EFE
Soccer fans rush onto the field as military personnel try to stop them after a match at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, on Saturday night. Photo by H. Prabowo/EPA-EFE

Oct. 2 (UPI) -- At least 125 people died late Saturday in Indonesia when spectators at a soccer game were trampled in a panic after police fired tear gas in an effort to stop them from rushing onto the field, making it one of the sport's deadliest incidents.

As of Sunday night, Emil Elestianto Darda, East Java's vice governor, said an an additional 309 had been injured. The death toll Sunday was revised from at least 174 as some names were listed twice.

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Dozens of fans rushed onto the field at Kanjuruhan Stadium, which is Arema FC's home, after the team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya.

Supporters of both teams had clashed in the stands.

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Inspector General Nico Afinta, the East Java Police chief, the unrest prompted people to use tear gas. He noted fans were attacking officers in the "anarchy."

Two officers were among the dead, the police chief said.

In a statement, Indonesia's Legal Aid Foundation said "the excessive use of force through the use of tear gas and inappropriate crowd control was the cause of the large number of fatalities."

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"The use of tear gas that was not in accordance with crowd control procedures resulted in supporters in the stands jostling for an exit door, causing them to be short of breath and fainting and colliding with each other," the legal aid group said in a statement.

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The use of the chemical is prohibited by FIFA, soccer's global governing body.

"I regret that this tragedy occurred," President Joko Widodo Joko said in a televised speech tp the nation. "And I hope this is the last football tragedy in the country.":

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He ordered a thorough invesitgation into what happened.

The 38,000 seat stadium was above capacity.

The local football committee had printed 42,000 tickets, said Mahfud MD, Indonesia's coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs.

"We had anticipated the numbers and suggested that the game be held in the afternoon instead but it went on in the evening," Indonesian Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD said in a post on his official social media accounts.

"Our proposals were not met. I also would like to emphasize that supporters in the field were Arema FC's."

PT Liga Indonesia Baru, the soccerf league, suspended play for at least a week.

In 1964, at least 300 people died in Peru after an unpopular decision by a referee at a soccer game touched off a riot at the country's national stadium.

Bambang Siswanto, 40, said his nephew was dead at the hospital but his son, 19, was alive.

"He couldn't see anything," Siswanto told The New York Times. "When he was conscious again, he was already at the V.I.P. section with oxygen mask."

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With a narrow lane for people to exit the stadfium,some people had to scale fences that were more than 15 feet.

"They were actually trying to get out of the stadium to avoid the chaos, but they couldn't because there was also fighting between the fans and the police outside the stadium," Joshua, who doesn't go by a last name, told the newspaper.

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