At least nine people were killed and dozens injured when soccer fans stampeded through an access gate at a Salvadoran league quarterfinal match on Saturday.
The National Civil Police said in an initial report via Twitter that nine people had been confirmed dead during the match between Club Alianza and FAS at Cuscatlán’s Monumental Stadium, about 25 miles northeast of the capital.
The condition of at least two of the injured is critical, police said.
Carlos Fuentes, spokesman for the first aid group Rescue Commandos, also confirmed the death.
“We can confirm nine dead – seven men and two women – and we met more than 500 people and more than 100 were taken to hospital, some of them seriously,” Fuentes said.
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Play was suspended around 16 minutes into the match, when fans in the stands began waving frantically to get the attention of the field crowd and start carrying the injured out of a tunnel and onto the pitch.
Local television broadcast live footage of the aftermath of the stampede by Alianza fans. Dozens were taken to the field where they received treatment. Fans who escaped the crush stood on the field waving their shirts furiously trying to get the men lying on the grass to barely move.
Pedro Hernandez, president of El Salvador Soccer’s first division, said he had initial information that fans were able to push through a stadium gate after a stampede.
“It was an avalanche of fans who crossed the gate. Some were still under the metal in the tunnel. Others managed to make it to the stands and then to the field and suffocated,” said an unidentified volunteer from the Rescue Commandos’ first aid group. told reporters.
National Civil Police Commissioner Mauricio Ariza Chicas, at the scene of the tragedy, said there would be a criminal investigation in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office.
“We are going to investigate from the ticket sales, the entrance to the stadium, but especially the south zone,” where he said, the gate was pushed open.
The Salvadoran Soccer Federation said in a statement that it regretted what happened and expressed support for the families of the victims.