Twelve people were killed in a mass rush at a soccer stadium in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR – A stampede of fans at a quarter-final soccer match in the Salvadoran league has killed 12 and injured dozens more, officials said early Sunday.

The crowds came as football fans pushed through one of the gates during Saturday’s game between Alianza and FAS at the Monumental stadium in Cuscatlan, some 25 miles (41 kilometers) northeast of the capital, Salvadoran football officials said.

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

Civil Protection Director Luis Amaya said about 500 people have been treated and about 100 have been taken to hospitals. At least two of the injured who were transported to hospital were in critical condition.

“Twelve people lost their lives and I would of course like to express my condolences to all the people of El Salvador for this tragic incident,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a speech at a World Health Organization meeting in Geneva on Sunday.

The game was stopped about 16 minutes into the game when fans in the stands waved frantically and began to draw the attention of people on the field and carry the injured out of a tunnel onto the field.

Local television broadcast live footage of the aftermath of the Alianza fan rush. Dozens made it onto the field where they received medical treatment. Fans who escaped the scrum stood on the field angrily waving T-shirts and trying to watch the people lying on the grass, barely moving.

Pedro Hernández, president of El Salvador’s Premier Football League, said the preliminary information he has is that the rush happened because fans managed to enter the stadium through a gate.

“It was an avalanche of fans overrunning the goal. Some were still under the metal in the tunnel. Others made it to the stands and then onto the pitch and were suffocated,” an unidentified volunteer with first-aid group Rescue Commandos told journalists.

National Civil Police Commissioner Mauricio Arriza Chicas said at the scene of the tragedy that a criminal investigation was being launched in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office.

“We will study ticket sales, access to the stadium, but especially the southern area,” he said, where the gate was thrown open.

The Salvadoran Football Federation issued a statement saying it regretted the incident and expressed its support for the families of the victims.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed, or redistributed without permission.

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