Two people have been killed and a young boy left fighting for his life after a stampedeÂ by fansÂ attempting to enterÂ a Jakarta stadium for the Southeast Asian Games football final.
Monday night’s game at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium was sold out, with 88,000 spectators anticipating a showdown between the hosts and Malaysia
With many fans unable to secure tickets, tens of thousands of supporters gathered outside the stadium, some hoping to buy tickets from touts and others finding spots in front of large outdoor screens.
But 5,000 police were unable to control the crowd when a gate was momentarily opened and fans rushed to get through.
“The two victims died when the stadium doors at section 15 opened and everyone rushed in,” a Jakarta city police spokesman told the AFP news agency.
“One of the bodies was identified and has been returned to his family, while the other is still at the morgue.
“Several others were taken to hospital with minor injuries, but one young boy slipped into a coma.”
In the chaos, the bodies of the two men trampled to death – both wearing the Indonesian team’s jersey – could not be immediately evacuated, police said.
Hundreds of people had been packed tight against the ticket barriers while fans inside the stadium were forced to crouch in aisles and walkways, witnesses said.
The tragedy followed complaints over poor organisation at the multi-sport Southeast Asian Games; and there had been calls for calm ahead of the flashpoint football final between arch-rivals Indonesia and Malaysia – who took the gold 4-3 on penalties.
“We are saddened by the deaths and it is unfortunate that the game has come to such a point that hooligans and vandals now are spoiling what should be an enjoyable pastime,” said Azzuddin Ahmad, secretary-general of the Malaysian football Association.
Earlier on Monday, fans had gone on the rampage after the stadium was declared sold out. They burned down a ticket booth and besieged the media centre before they were chased away by riot police.
Malaysia had requested armoured vehicles to escort their players to and from the venue after their bus was surrounded and kicked by hostile fans before their semi-final.
The run-up to the games, which are split between Jakarta and the South Sumatra city of Palembang, were plagued by concerns over unfinished venues and a lack of accommodation and poor transport.