12 killed in El Salvador football stadium stampede after fans rush through gates

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Officials and witnesses said on Sunday that fans angry at being denied entry to a Salvadoran soccer league kicked down the stadium’s entrance gates, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more.

The stampede happened late on Saturday during the quarter-finals between Alianza and Fas clubs at the Monumental Stadium in Cuscatlan, south of San Salvador, the country’s capital.

“The match was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m., but they closed the gates at 7 p.m. and left us outside (the stadium) with our tickets in hand,” Alianza fan José Ángel Penado said. “People got angry. to let us in, but no. So they kicked in the door.

Civil protection director Luis Amaya said about 500 people were treated and about 100 were taken to hospital. At least two of the injured transported to the hospital are in a critical condition.

“El Salvador is in mourning,” said a statement from Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele’s press office, which confirmed that at least 12 people had died.

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Speaking at the World Health Organization meeting in Geneva on Sunday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “Of course, I just want to express my condolences to the people of El Salvador for this tragic incident.”

Play was suspended in the 16th minute of the match when frantically waving fans in the stands began to attract the attention of those on the pitch and carry the injured from the tunnel onto the pitch.

Local television broadcast live images of the aftermath of the stampede, which appeared to be mainly Alianza fans. Dozens of them made it to the field, where they received medical treatment. Fans who escaped the crush stood on the field angrily waving shirts and trying to review the people lying on the grass barely moving.

“He had a terrible night. I never thought something like this could happen to me,” Alianza fan Tomas Renderos said as he left the hospital where he was receiving medical attention. “Luckily I only have a few bruises… but not everyone was so lucky.”

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Pedro Hernández, the president of El Salvador’s football first division, said that according to the preliminary information he had, the stampede happened because the fans pushed through a gate into the stadium.

“There was an avalanche of fans who came through the gate. Some were still under the metal in the tunnel. Others managed to get into the stands and then onto the field and were suffocated,” an unidentified volunteer of the Rescue Commandos first aid team told reporters.

Mauricio Arriza Chicas, the national civil police captain, said at the scene of the tragedy that an investigation will be launched together with the General Prosecutor’s Office.

“We will look at the entrances to the stadium from the ticket sales, but especially the south zone,” where, he said, “where the gates were opened.”

The Salvadoran Football Association said in a statement that it regrets what happened and expressed its support for the families of the victims.

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Source: https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/soccer-stadium-stampede-el-salvador-leaves-12-dead-99491462