Twelve people died and about 90 others were injured in a stampede at a football stadium in El Salvador on Saturday, authorities said, turning a highly anticipated match into a chaotic scene as fans rushed to rescue choking people under a mass of bodies.
Videos circulating on Twitter and posted by local news sites show dozens of people dressed in white appearing to rush towards a stadium exit, with some lying on the ground as others piled up on top.
It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted the rush to the Cuscatlán stadium in San Salvador, El Salvador, where first league soccer clubs, Alianza Fútbol Club and Club Deportivo FAS, were playing the second leg of a quarter-final.
In a press conference on Saturday evening, El Salvador’s national police director said that authorities are investigating a possible cause: the large number of people present at the match may have caused the stadium’s Wi-Fi to malfunction, which in his opinion may have led to a problem with scanning QR codes on tickets. That ticketing issue, he said, may have resulted in hundreds of people being stuck at the stadium’s south gate, trying to get inside.
Police director Mauricio Arriaza Chicas said some fans also forcibly entered the stadium through the south gate, where those who buy cheaper tickets usually enter.
He added that they would also investigate ticket sales for the game. Local news outlets raised concerns that too many tickets for the match had been sold.
Football matches around the world have been the scene of deadly stadium disasters for decades, sometimes triggered by mob violence and often exacerbated by inept police responses that result in spectators being crushed as they try to flee. In Malang, Indonesia, at least 125 people died last October, many of them trampled, after police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
Nayib Bukele, the president of El Salvador, said in a statement that « everyone will be investigated: teams, coaches, stadium, ticket office, league, federation, etc. »
“Whoever the culprits are,” he said, “they will not go unpunished.”
The turmoil appears to have started around 20 minutes into the game when the teams remained level.
In a live stream of the match posted on YouTube, match commentators said they could see some kind of commotion in the stands, noting that some people appeared to have lost consciousness. Fans eventually entered the pitch and the match was abandoned, commentators said on the live stream.
At about 11:00 pm Eastern, the authorities She said who were trying to make it easier for ambulances to get in and out of the stadium.
El Salvador’s health minister, Francisco Alabi, said in a statement that hospitals across the country were providing medical care to those injured in the episode, adding that workers were doing « everything humanly possible » to save their lives. lives. He said of the approximately 90 people injured, most were stable.
Mr. Alabi shared the photos on Chirping of the scene outside the stadium, with ambulances lining up as fans stand alongside the vehicles. Nine of the victims died at the stadium and three in hospitals, authorities said. Police did not immediately release their names.
A local radio station posted video of fans waving their shirts near people on the ground in an attempt to cool them off. Other photos showed people sweating and crying.
The country’s football federation declared in a declaration on Twitter that he would « immediately request a report on what happened » and that all games would be canceled on Sunday.
The president of El Salvador’s national institute of sport, Yamil Bukele, said in a statement that he had called a meeting on Sunday to look into what happened.