Stadium exit gates too small for escape

Indonesian police said Tuesday the gates of the soccer stadium, where police fired tear gas and unleashed a deadly crush, were too small and could only hold two at a time as hundreds tried to flee.

Photos from Malang Stadium, where 125 people died and hundreds were injured in one of the worst disasters at sporting events on Saturday night, showed four connecting doors forming a gate.

Police said investigations focused on six of the 14 gates, where most spectators died in the scrum.

Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said they were unlocked but could only hold two people at a time.

“They were not closed for these six gates, but they were too small. They had a capacity for two, but hundreds came out. It was crowded there,” said Prasetyo.

He added that the goals are the responsibility of the organizers.

On Monday, police announced they had removed a police chief and nine elite officers and were investigating 18 others for responsibility for firing tear gas at the stadium.

The match in the city of Malang in East Java was attended only by fans from hometown Arema FC. Organizers had banned fans of visiting team Persebaya Surabaya because of Indonesia’s history of violent football rivalries.

Witnesses said some of the 42,000 Arema fans ran onto the pitch in anger after the team were defeated 3-2, their first home loss to Persebaya in 23 years. Some threw bottles and other objects at players and football officials. At least five police vehicles were overturned and set on fire in front of the stadium.

Most of the deaths occurred as riot police trying to stop the violence fired tear gas, including in the stands, prompting a disastrous stampede of fans who ran to the exits in a panic and chaos. Most of the 125 dead were trampled or suffocated. Two police officers were among the victims.

Saturday’s game was among the world’s worst sporting mass disasters, a list that includes a 1996 World Cup qualifier between Guatemala and Costa Rica in Guatemala City that left over 80 dead and more than 100 injured. In April 2001, more than 40 people were crushed to death during a football match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa. In February 2012, after a match between rivals al-Masry and al-Ahly, 74 people were killed and more than 500 injured when thousands of al-Masry fans rushed onto the field and attacked visiting fans. The Egyptian league was then suspended for two years. Stadium exit gates too small for escape

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