Indonesia sets up team to probe football stampede

AFP

Indonesia has set up an independent team to investigate a crowd crush at a football stadium that killed 125 people authorities said on Monday, as the country's human rights commission questioned the police use of tear gas.

Panic-stricken spectators stampeded as they tried to escape the overpacked stadium in Malang, East Java, on Saturday after police fired tear gas to disperse fans from the losing home side who ran onto the pitch at the end of the BRI Liga 1 match in the domestic league.

At least 32 of the victims were children between 3 and 17, Nahar, an official at the women's empowerment and child protection ministry, told Reuters. The official has earlier put the death toll of children at 17.

"My family and I didn't think it would turn out like this," said Endah Wahyuni, the elder sister of two boys, Ahmad Cahyo, 15, and Muhammad Farel, 14, who died after being caught in the melee.

"They loved football, but never watched Arema live at Kanjuruhan stadium, this was their first time," she added at her brothers' funeral on Sunday, referring to the home side they backed.

FIFA, the governing body for world football, says in its safety regulations that firearms or "crowd control gas" should not be used at matches.

"If there hadn't been any tear gas maybe there wouldn't have been chaos," Choirul Anam, a commissioner at Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, known as Komnas Ham, told a briefing at the stadium.

Police and sport officials have been sent to Malang to investigate what is one of the world's deadliest stadium disasters. President Joko Widodo ordered the football association to suspend all Liga 1 matches until the investigation is completed.

Indonesia's chief security minister Mahfud MD said the government would form an independent fact-finding team, including academics and soccer experts as well as government officials, to probe what happened.

The team will investigate for the next few weeks with the aim of finding out who was responsible for the tragedy, he said.

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