Indonesian President Joko Widodo to order stadium audit after deadly stampede

Joko Widodo was in the city of Malang to visit relatives of the victims, speak to the wounded at a hospital and tour the stadium where at least 131 people died in a stampede.

Joko Widodo was in the city of Malang to visit relatives of the victims, speak to the wounded at a hospital and tour the stadium where at least 131 people died in a stampede.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on October 5 he would order an audit of all the country’s soccer stadiums and vowed to find the “root cause” of one of the deadliest disasters in the sport’s history.

He was in the city of Malang to visit relatives of the victims and to speak to the wounded at a hospital, and to see the stadium where at least 131 people were killed in a stampede on Saturday.

“I want to know the root of the problem that caused this tragedy so we can find the best solution,” he said.

Explained: What’s Behind Indonesia’s Deadly Soccer Game?

“I will instruct the Minister of Public Works to inspect all stadiums used for the (soccer) league,” he said outside Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang, adding he had met with the FIFA President the night before talked about improving Indonesian “soccer management”.

He entered the hospital to speak to the wounded patients and said he told them to “stay sane”. He will then travel to Kanjuruhan Stadium, the scene of the disaster, on Saturday night, according to a presidential official.

The Indonesian leader’s visit came amid anger at police officers’ response to a pitch invasion, after Arema FC fans tried to approach players following their defeat by bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

Police described the incident as a riot and said two officers were killed, but survivors accused them of overreacting.

Officials responded violently to the invasion of the pitch, kicking and hitting fans with batons, according to witnesses and video footage, and pushing fans back into the stands, where many were trampled to death or suffocated after tear gas was fired.

In response to the tragedy, Mr Widodo ordered all games suspended, an investigation into what happened and compensation for the victims.

Indonesia’s top security minister said a task force has been set up and the investigation will take two to three weeks.

Seventeen children among dead in Indonesian soccer rush

Police said the investigation focused on six goals at the stadium, using CCTV footage from cameras set up outside of them. The exits were said to be open but too small for the crowds trying to pass through them.

But the Indonesian Football Association spokesman said on Tuesday some gates that should have opened 10 minutes before the final whistle remained closed. They remained closed “because of late orders” and the officers “had not arrived,” he told a news conference.

The Malang police chief was replaced on Monday, nine officers were suspended and 19 others were under investigation over the disaster at the stadium, police said.

Witnesses described being enveloped in smoke and stinging their eyes as they rushed toward small exit doors. Several present said the police stood by and refused to help the victims. “The place looked like a mass cemetery. Women and children piled on top of each other,” says Eko Prianto, 39 AFP.

The Indonesian Football Confederation also imposed sanctions on Arema FC on Tuesday, banning the organizing committee chairman and a security official from football for life and fined the club 250 million rupiah (US$16,500).

Maike Ira Puspita, deputy general secretary of the association, said AFP Banned for fear of fan violence, away fans said the game went uneventfully until fans took the field after the final whistle.

She said the federation had sanctioned the club and its officials “due to the … negligence of the whole situation”. “The actions of the police were outside the sphere of action of the association,” said the official. “We’re not going there,” she said, refusing to answer questions about her behavior after the game.

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