Over 130 people dead following stampede at Indonesian soccer game

A view of the riot during a soccer game in Indonesia that left at least 131 people dead.
(Image credit: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

A massive stampede at a soccer game in Indonesia on Sunday left at least 131 people dead, according to officials, marking one of the deadliest stadium disasters in modern history.

The tragedy unfolded following a game in the city of East Java between two of the nation's most popular clubs, Persebaya Surabaya and rival Arema FC. According to CNN, fans of the two teams began to fight following Arema FC's 3-2 loss. The verbal jousting soon escalated to violence throughout the 38,000-seat stadium, requiring a police response.

A mad dash for the exits ensued when police began firing tear gas canisters into the crowd in an effort to disperse the fans. A report from the BBC said that police also beat fans with riot gear and deployed police dogs on the crowd.

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During the rush to exit the stadium, the crowds built up, causing a massive human crush in which many people were trampled or suffocated. At one point, Indonesian officials said that the total deaths neared 200, but this figure was later downgraded. Even still, the 131 deaths mark one of the highest fatality rates ever recorded during a stadium disaster.

"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 during a televised speech. "We must continue to maintain sportsmanship, humanity, and a sense of brotherhood of the Indonesian nation."

The president ordered an investigation into the circumstances of the disaster. Soccer's governing body, FIFA, has advised against the use of tear gas in crowds during previous instances of violence.

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