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El Salvador soccer stadium stampede kills 12: police

A stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador's capital kills 12 people and injures hundreds, according to police and emergency services
A stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador's capital kills 12 people and injures hundreds, according to police and emergency services - Copyright Milton FLORES
A stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador's capital kills 12 people and injures hundreds, according to police and emergency services - Copyright Milton FLORES

Twelve people were killed Saturday in a stampede at an El Salvador stadium where soccer fans had gathered to watch a local tournament, police said.

Authorities said initial reports pointed to a crush of fans who tried to enter Cuscatlan Stadium in the Central American country’s capital San Salvador to watch a match between teams Alianza and FAS.

The match was suspended as emergency personnel evacuated people from the stadium, where hundreds of police officers and soldiers gathered as ambulance sirens wailed.

“Preliminarily, we have a negative result of 12 victims, nine who are here in the stadium and three more that we have been informed are in different hospital centers,” National Civil Police (PNC) director Mauricio Arriaza told reporters.

“Salvadoran soccer is in mourning,” Arriaza said.

Health Minister Francisco Alabi said the country’s hospital network was “providing medical care to all patients.”

Interior Minister Juan Carlos Bidegain said the civil protection service’s first responders were on the scene.

Carlos Fuentes, spokesman for the emergency services group Comandos de Salvamento, said they were treating more than 500 people.

About 100 people in serious condition were taken to hospital, with some showing signs of asphyxia and other types of trauma, Fuentes said.

The stampede apparently started after a stadium gate fell, causing people to crowd together, he said.

At least two of the injured were in critical condition, according to police.

– ‘Everyone will be investigated’ –

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 will be investigated: teams, managers, stadium, box office, league, federation,” Bukele said on Twitter.

He warned that “whoever the culprits are, they will not go unpunished.”

The Salvadoran Football Federation (Fesfut) said in a statement it “deeply regrets” the events that occurred at the stadium and “expresses its solidarity” with the families of those “affected and killed.”

“Fesfut will immediately request a report of what happened and will communicate the relevant information as soon as possible,” it said.

The tragedy comes seven months after 135 people, including more than 40 children, were killed in a stampede following a football match in Malang, Indonesia.

Police had tried to fend off fans with tear gas and many panic-stricken victims were crushed or suffocated while trying to use closed or narrow exit doors.

An Indonesian police officer and two match officials were jailed for 12-18 months over the disaster.

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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