Six months after the stadium tragedy in Malang, on the island of Java in Indonesia, which claimed the lives of 135 people, a new drama in a football stadium took place on Saturday, this time in El Salvador. “Salvadoran football is in mourning,” said Salvadoran police chief Mauricio Arriaza, as a stampede left 12 dead in a stadium in San Salvador. Nine people died in the Cuscatlan stadium, three others died in hospital and at least two others are in “critical condition”, according to a provisional report from the police on Sunday.
The tragedy occurred when supporters “tried to enter” the southern sector, before a first division match between local team Alianza and CD FAS, in the capital of El Salvador. When the stampede broke out at the Salvadoran stadium, the game was interrupted and hundreds of law enforcement and military personnel coordinated the evacuation of spectators.
“I had five people on me who were suffocating me”
According to a spokesman for relief, more than 500 people had to be taken care of inside the 35,000-seat enclosure, one of the largest in Central America. The 100 most affected people were taken to health facilities for symptoms of asphyxiation and other types of “trauma”. Players from both teams joined in the rescue operations for the injured inside the stadium and on the pitch, as ambulances poured in with the wail of sirens. “I am traumatized to have seen the people on the ground, dead, injured, their faces covered with bruises because they had been trampled on,” explains Fredy Alexander Ruiz, a 28-year-old spectator who survived the stampede. I had five people on top of me choking me and thank God I was able to grab a policeman’s foot and was pulled from there, along with a friend. »
Sandra Guzman (40), admitted to the Rosales National Hospital in San Salvador, confides: “I couldn’t even breathe, they were suffocating me. People were pushing me to enter the stadium, they didn’t give me the chance to step back. I had a seizure and passed out, there were so many people on top of me. I woke up in the hospital. The Head of State, Nayib Bukele, announced that an investigation had been opened. “All will be affected: teams, directions, state, ticket office, league, federation,” he said on his Twitter account. Whoever the culprits are, they will not go unpunished. Since Sunday, the Salvadoran authorities have been investigating possible sales of counterfeit or excess tickets, which could in particular be the cause of the deadly stampede.
The alert was given ten minutes after kick-off
Both the police and the emergency services indicate that they have received complaints about oversales of tickets or counterfeit tickets, as well as malfunctions of the “ticketing QR code readers”. The oversale of tickets on the black market is a common practice in the country, denounces the director of civil protection services Luis Alonso Amaya. Video images posted on social networks show the crowd gathering in front of one of the stadium gates. It was saturated and the door giving access to the southern sector, the most popular, had been closed. The mob rammed the gate, causing the deadly stampede.
The alert was given ten minutes after kick-off, and the supporters invaded the lawn to flee the jostling. Luis Alonso Amaya criticizes the organizers for not having “maintained strict control” of the event, while the supporters had a “very reprehensible” attitude. “Nothing justifies violence,” hammered the director of civil protection services, acknowledging that spectators who had bought tickets had not been able to enter. The National Sports Institute has announced that it will prepare “a bill to crack down hard on the sale of counterfeit tickets and regulate the resale of tickets” to the black market.