Indonesia football stadium disaster: President Joko Widodo says locked gates contributed to tragedy

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By euronews
Memorial to victims of Malang stadium tragedy
Memorial to victims of Malang stadium tragedy   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo says locked gates had contributed to a crush at a football stadium that left at least 131 people dead and more than 400 injured. 

Thousands of fans stormed the pitch in Malang, East Java, on Saturday after Arema FC was defeated by local rivals Persebaya Surabaya.

Police fired tear gas and set off a panicked run for the exits.

Widodo made the claim as he visited the football stadium for a first-hand look at the scene of one of the world’s deadliest disasters at a sporting event. 

He also visited the victims recovering at Saiful Anwar General Hospital and pledged a thorough investigation into what had transpired on Saturday night.

Police continued to insist that the gates were open but were too narrow and could only accommodate two people at a time when hundreds were trying to escape.

Indonesia’s national soccer association said that because of a lack of workers, only a few people were ordered to open the gates, and they had not yet reached some doors when spectators began rushing to escape tear gas fired by police in an attempt to control fans who had entered the pitch.

“As an illustration, I saw the problem was there are locked doors, steep stairs and panic,” Widodo said at a news conference. “But all of this will be concluded later by an inquiry team.”