At least 12 people have died and 100 are in serious condition after a stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador last night.
Authorities believe the tragedy happened after scores of fans tried to enter the Cuscatlan Stadium in the capital of San Salvador to watch a quarter-final match between teams Alianza and FAS.
The game was halted about 16 minutes into the game after fans in the stands waved frantically, drawing the attention of spectators and carrying the injured out of a tunnel onto the pitch.
Rescue workers evacuated people from the stadium, which has a capacity of 44,000 fans, while hundreds of police and soldiers gathered while ambulance sirens wailed.
“We have a preliminary negative result of 12 victims, nine of whom are here at the stadium and three others who we understand are in different hospital centers,” Mauricio Arriaza, director of the National Civil Police, told reporters.
“Salvadorian football is in mourning,” said Arriaza.
Health Minister Francisco Alabi said the country’s hospital network “offers medical care to all patients”.
Carlos Fuentes, spokesman for the Comandos de Salvamento emergency services group, said they were treating more than 500 people.
About 100 people in serious condition were hospitalized, some showing signs of asphyxiation and other types of trauma, Fuentes said.
The stampede apparently began after a stadium gate collapsed, causing people to crowd together, he said.
At least two of the injured were in critical condition, police said.
El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele said the PNC and the attorney general’s office would investigate the incident and those responsible would be punished.
“Everyone is examined: teams, managers, stadium, box office, league, association,” Bukele said on Twitter.
He warned: “Whoever the perpetrators are, they will not go unpunished.”
The Salvadoran Football Federation (Fesfut) said in a statement that it “deeply regrets” the events at the stadium and expresses “its solidarity” with the families of those “affected and killed”.
The tragedy came seven months after 135 people, including more than 40 children, were killed in a stampede following a soccer match in Malang, Indonesia.
Police had attempted to repel fans with tear gas, and many panicked victims were crushed or suffocated trying to use closed or narrow exit doors.
An Indonesian police officer and two match officials were sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison over the disaster.
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