A horrific Egyptian soccer riot following a match in the city of Port Said on Wednesday resultedÂ in at least 73 deaths. Authorities fear the death toll in the violent clash could rise even higher. At least 1,000 people have reportedly been injured in the disaster.
The violent riot erupted after the home team, Al-Masry, landed a rare win with a 3-1 score against Al-Ahly, the nation’s top soccer team. Al-Masry fans, who call themselves the Ultras, reportedly stormed onto the field and began chasing Al-Ahly fans and players, hitting them with stones and sticks as they attempted to flee.
Horrific battles broke out between the fans of the two rival soccer teams. Some fans also allegedly brought knives to the stadium and used them to attack and stab their opponents, according to the BBC. Footage from the stadium on State TV also shows parts of the stadium on fire. Police on the scene were overwhelmed and it has been reported that some of the dead includes stadium security guards.
“This is unfortunate and deeply saddening,” Egyptian Deputy Health Minister Hesham Sheiha said in a press statement. He stated that those who died were mostly killed by head injuries and suffocation from being trapped in the stamped onto the field. An immediate investigation has been ordered by Egypt’s state prosecutor into the riot and resulting deaths.
“There are 11 deaths at my hospital. Two other hospitals include 25 deaths. Three fans have also died in the stadium,” Port Said El-Amiry Hosptial Manager Hassan Esnawy said in an interview. “Some died of stampede and others died of suffocation.”
Egyptian State TV captured much of the violence on video, including footage of Al-Ahly players running for their lives and trying to escape to the locker rooms. One Al-Ahly manager is reportedly seen being beaten before being rescued and rushed off the field. “It was an atmosphere of terrorism,” Al-Ahly player Sayed Hamdi told State TV.
“The security forces left us; they did not protect us. One fan has just died in the dressing room in front of me,” veteran Al-Ahly player Mohamed Abou-Treika reported from the scene in a phone interview in the midst of the carnage..
Another Ahly player, Mohamed Baraket, said: “People have died; we are seeing corpses now. There are no security forces or army personnel to protect us.”
If the death toll is correct, this would be the deadliest soccer riot since 1996, when 78 people were killed in Guatemala City during a World Cup qualifying match.