At least 125 people are dead after Indonesian police fired tear gas at a soccer match in an attempt to stop violence among the crowd.
According to the Associated Press, officials fired the tear gas canisters into the crowd, causing a wave of panic as people tried to escape the stadium where they had been watching a soccer match between host Arema FC of East Java’s Malang city and Persebaya Surabaya.
The panic caused people to trample each other.
The violence started after home team Arema lost the game 3-2 to Persebaya. Some Arema fans reportedly began throwing bottles and other objects at the soccer players and other game personnel.
Arema was undefeated at home against Persebaya.
“The stadium turned into a smoke-filled battleground when police fired tear gas,” said Rizky, who went to the game with his cousin.
“I felt hot and stinging in my eyes, I couldn’t see clearly while my head was dizzy, and everything went dark ... I passed out,” he said. Rizky said he woke up in the emergency room and discovered his cousin had died from a head injury.
“We wanted to entertain ourselves by watching a football match, but we got [a] disaster,” he said.
Others suffocated and were trampled as hundreds of people ran to the exit to avoid the tear gas. Reports said 34 people died at the stadium, including two officers and possibly children.
“Some were trampled, some fell down and some got hit,” Rian Dwi Cahyono told Sky News from the hospital.
More than 100 people are receiving intensive treatment at nearby hospitals, with 11 in critical condition.
East Java police chief Nico Afinta told reporters the tear gas was necessary.
“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 said.
Indonesia’s soccer association, known as PSSI, has since suspended the premier soccer league Liga 1, and Arema has been banned from hosting soccer games for the remainder of the season.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ulet Ifansasti/Stringer
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.