Up to 127 Indonesian football fans feared dead after riot broke out and police deployed tear gas


At least 127 Indonesian football fans are feared dead after a mass riot broke out on the pitch of the top division clash with armed police deploying tear gas

  • At least 127 football fans feared dead after a riot broke out after a pitch invasion
  • Arema FC lost at home 3-2 to rivals Persebaya Surabaya in Indonesian league
  • Riot police confronted pitch invaders and began firing tear gas at the crowds 
  • Fans reportedly died from the stampede and inhalation of the tear gas

At least 127 football fans are feared dead after a riot broke out at the end of a match in Indonesia.

Horrific scenes marred the full-time whistle of the BRI Liga 1 match as Arema FC lost at home 3-2 to local rivals Persebaya Surabaya on the main island of Java, a result which saw dozens of Artema fans invade the pitch. 

Amid the on-field violence, baton-wielding riot police immediately took to the pitch,  firing tear gas both on the field and into the stands as the fans retreated.

Harrowing video shows fans scaling fences as they try to escape the smoke, which did not dissipate, with some falling to the ground and losing consciousness and being trampled under a stampede. 

Reports suggest that some of the fans were cornered by the tear gas and suffered from inhalation and shortage of oxygen. 

The death toll stands at 127, with two police officers and children among the dead. A further 180 have been reported injured as a result of the pitch invasion and the actions that followed.

One hundred and twenty seven people are feared dead after a riot broke out at the end of a football match in Indonesia on the main island of Java

Riot police immediately entered the pitch to confront the football fans and began to fire tear gas indiscriminately

Riot police immediately entered the pitch to confront the football fans and began to fire tear gas indiscriminately

The riots that flared up saw 180 people injured as well as the hundreds killed, and police vehicles were seen smashed up near the pitch

The riots that flared up saw 180 people injured as well as the hundreds killed, and police vehicles were seen smashed up near the pitch

Arema's stadium is located in the east if Java in the town of Kepanjen, 50 miles from rivals Persebaya Surabaya to the north

Arema’s stadium is located in the east if Java in the town of Kepanjen, 50 miles from rivals Persebaya Surabaya to the north

Further disturbing footage appears to show rows of bodies turned blue in the hallways of a nearby hospital. 

Local reports says that hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of dead and injured being brought in, and the death toll is rising throughout the night as a result. 

Further riots broke out outside the stadium as tensions boiled over among supporters, with cars set on fire and bricks hurled at passing vehicles.

Football association chief Mochamad Iriawan appeared to accept some responsibility for the chaotic and heartbreaking scenes at the end of the match when he apologised ‘to the families of the victims and all parties’.’ 

‘For that PSSI [Indonesian Football Association] immediately formed an investigation team and immediately left for Malang,’ he said.

Riots after the match outside the stadium kicked off as tensions boiled over following the pitch invasion

Riots after the match outside the stadium kicked off as tensions boiled over following the pitch invasion

Crowds of youths throw rocks at passing vehicles as rioting took hold in the streets outside the stadium

Crowds of youths throw rocks at passing vehicles as rioting took hold in the streets outside the stadium

The Arema fans were enraged by their late loss to great rivals Persebaya and the police action that followed the pitch invasion

The Arema fans were enraged by their late loss to great rivals Persebaya and the police action that followed the pitch invasion

The hotly contested Super East Java Derby had been a thrilling match, with Arema pegging Persebaya back after falling 2-0 behind on Saturday night. 

But the heroic comeback was not to be, as Arema conceded a late goal to lose the match, sending their fans into a rage.

The riot led to images of police cars burnt out on the pitch once order had finally be restored within the ground. 

Akhmad Hadian Lukita, the president of PT Liga Indonesia Baru (LIB), has said: ‘We are concerned and deeply regret this incident. We share our condolences and hopefully this will be a valuable lesson for all of us.’ 

Meanwhile, victorious Persebaya’s official Twitter account posted on Saturday evening: ‘Persebaya’s extended family deeply mourns the loss of life after the Arema FC vs Persebaya match. No single life is worth football. We pray for the victims and may the families left behind be given strength.’

The Indonesian football association PSSI has suspected all league matches for one week following the tragedy, while Arema will not be permitted to host any more home matches for the rest of the season. 

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