Conflicts & War

Indonesia soccer tragedy death toll climbs to 131

Jakarta, Oct 5 (EFE).- Indonesian authorities on Wednesday raised the number of deaths to 131 in the deadly stampede at a soccer stadium on the Java island over the weekend, while the number of wounded has crossed 400.

The deputy governor of East Java province, Emil Dardak, said in a tweet that six bodies had been directly carried away to their families and therefore had not been counted in the official records.

The disaster, the worst in the history of Indonesian soccer and one of the deadliest the sport has seen worldwide, took place on Saturday night when thousands of fans of the Arema home team stormed the field at the Malang soccer stadium following their 2-3 loss to Persebaya Surabaya.

The fans clashed with police, who baton-charged them and fired teargas, sending spectators fleeing for the exits, which caused a massive stampede and crush.

Many of the exits had been blocked, which caused mayhem, with most of the victims dying due to suffocation and trampling, according to hospital sources and eyewitnesses.

Authorities, which have suspended 10 police officers and are investigating around two dozen of them, have opened an internal probe into the actions of the police and pledged to “enforce the law against anyone who is guilty.”

In this regard, the national police commission of Indonesia (Kompolnas) – a government-linked body in charge of monitoring and advising the police – has said that as per preliminary probe, the Malang police chief had not ordered the excessive measures to disperse the crowd, including the firing of teargas, which is banned by FIFA from being used in stadiums.

Kompolnas commissioner Albertus Wahyurudanto said in a press conference on Tuesday that the officers on the soccer field had not followed instructions, which is why the local police chief had been suspended from his post temporarily by the national police chief.

However the commissioner did not clarify why the officers were carrying teargas canisters.

Apart from Malang police chief Ferli Hidayat, nine other officers have been relieved of their duties while the probe is on, while around 20 other cops are being interrogated over the incidents that took place during Saturday, whose horrific images grabbed headlines all over the world. EFE


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