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Indonesia: Fans ‘died in the arms’ of players in stadium crush

October 4, 2022 Indonesia Events & Announcements

Football fans “died in the arms” of players during a crush at Indonesia’s Kanjuruhan stadium, the home team coach has said, as the number of children killed in the tragedy rose to 32.

Javier Roca said the crush at the match in Java, in which 125 people lost their lives, left him “mentally shattered”.

Authorities say the youngest victim of Saturday’s disaster was just three.

Some 18 officers are being investigated after police fired tear gas at fans who invaded the pitch when the match ended.

The police chief in the city of Malang where the game was played has been sacked. At least nine other officers were suspended.

More than 320 other people were injured as supporters were trampled on and suffocated in crushes as they fled the gas. Indonesia’s deputy minister of children and women affairs said the children were aged between three and 17.

An eyewitness told the BBC that police had fired numerous gas rounds “continuously and fast” after the situation with fans became “tense”. Home team Arema FC supporters ran onto the pitch when the match ended in a 3-2 defeat to their rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

Videos on social media show fans clambering over fences to escape. Separate videos appeared to show lifeless bodies on the floor.

One witness, Chandra, told the BBC that a sea of smoke in the stands caused instant panic among spectators. “Little kids were crying, women were fainting, screams were heard everywhere, all were flocking out,” he said.

Another fan, Eko, said he couldn’t get out of the stand’s exits due to the number of people trying to escape.

“I went back to the top of the stands with friends. Then I used a scarf to keep the smoke away. After that I jumped into the field and went down through the side door,” he said.

Ester Andayanengtyas told the BBC her 17-year-old daughter Debora suffered serious injuries, including a broken neck and swelling on the brain during the panic.

“I asked her not to watch the game that day. She didn’t return home, in the morning her friends were looking for her,” Ms Andayanengtyas said. “We looked for her in the ER, but she wasn’t there. The hospital told us to look at the mortuary. The confusion happened because my daughter didn’t carry an ID.”

Other witnesses reported hearing parents crying out “where is my child” among the chaos, and one man told the BBC that he saw parents collapsing while protecting their children.

“A mother fainted while hugging her child, next to her the boy fainted,” he said. “Then some supporters picked up the mother and the boy to get out of the stadium. They were carried away unconscious – maybe because of the tear gas.”

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