According to Indonesia's National Police Chief, at least 125 people died after violence broke out during a soccer match in the Indonesian league in the early hours of Sunday. This incident is one of the deadliest stadium catastrophes in history.
After Arema FC's home team lost 3-2 to rival Persebaya Surabaya in a match in the city of Malang in East Java, fans of the two biggest soccer teams in Indonesia got into a brawl in the stands, according to the police.
East Java police chief Nico Afinta said during a news conference after the incident that after the losing team's fans "invaded" the field, police shot tear gas, causing a crush of fans that resulted in incidents of suffocation.
Authorities in Indonesia report that more than 300 people have been hurt and are concerned that the death toll may grow. He added that two police officers were also killed and that the tragedy happened as spectators sprinted for an exit gate.
On Sunday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, issued a directive ordering the suspension of all league games while inquiries are ongoing.
"I have specially requested the police chief to investigate and get to the bottom of this case," in a televised speech, Jokowi said. "Sportsmanship, humanity, and brotherhood should be upheld in Indonesia." He added, "I regret this tragedy and hope that it will be the last to occur in Indonesian football. We cannot have anymore (of this) in the future."
Videos captured late at night from inside the stadium and posted on social media showed fans storming the pitch while wearing the home team's colors of red and blue and fighting with Indonesian security personnel who appeared to be wearing riot gear.
Additionally, images of body bags were visible in the camera footage that was shown on local news channels. Later, in videos, smoke that seemed to be tear gas was also visible, along with other victims being carried into a building. According to officials, several were being treated at local hospitals for "lack of oxygen and shortness of breath."
Due to the tragic event, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) has suspended games for next week and banned Arema FC from hosting matches for the remainder of the campaign. The incident was referred to as "a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension" by FIFA, the world's governing body of soccer, in a statement to the families and friends of the victims.
In the meantime, the host team Arema FC issued a statement on their website expressing regret to everyone connected to the tragedy.