Deadly Indonesia football stampede caused by tear gas: Minister

More than 130 people were killed as they rushed to exit a stadium in East Java in one of the world’s worst sports disasters.

This picture taken on October 1, 2022 shows security personnel (lower) on the pitch at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang, East Java.
Security personnel fired tear gas to disperse the crowd at the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java [File: AFP]

A football stampede in Indonesia that killed more than 130 people was caused by tear gas, the country’s security minister has said.

A team of government officials, and football and security experts had launched an investigation to determine the main cause of death in one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, which occurred after a match at Kanjuruhan Stadium in East Java on October 1.

Coordinating Security Minister Mahfud MD on Friday said footage from 32 security cameras revealed the incident was more harrowing than previously known.

The findings, detailed in a 124-page list of recommendations, have been handed to the president.

A separate team was still investigating the toxicity of the chemical compound used, but whatever the result, it could not “diminish the conclusion that the massive [number of] deaths was mainly caused by tear gas”, Mahfud said.

Indonesia Soccer Deaths
People evacuate a girl from the Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang [File: H Prabowo/EPA]

The crowd control measure is banned for use in stadiums by the world football governing body, FIFA.

The fact-finding team found the police personnel on duty had no knowledge of the prohibition of tear gas, which it said was fired “indiscriminately” and the officers had employed “excessive” measures.

Investigators concluded that the Indonesian football Association (PSSI) had been negligent by ignoring regulations and called for the resignation of its chairman and executive committee.

They added that match organiser PT Liga Indonesia Baru had also been negligent.

Indonesian authorities and the PSSI have faced mounting questions and criticism over the incident.

The police and the military said they were investigating dozens of their officers in relation to the incident. The police have sought to play down their role in the tragedy, emphasising that narrow doors in the overcapacity stadium, exacerbated the crush.

At least six people, including three police officers, have been charged over the deadly incident.

Earlier this week, the PSSI announced it had formed a joint task force with FIFA to improve crowd control and safety measures.

The rare intervention by the sport’s governing body comes as Indonesia is due to host the FIFA under-20 World Cup next year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies