On Saturday, a stampede occurred at the Cuscatlan stadium in San Salvador during the second leg of the quarterfinal match between Alianza FC and Club Deportivo FAS. The El Salvador government reported that at least 12 people were killed and an unknown number were injured in the general section of the stadium. The stadium has a capacity of over 44,000 people, making it one of the largest in Central America. The Salvadoran Football Federation expressed their condolences to the families of those affected and suspended the tournament following Saturday’s games. El Salvador president, Nayib Bukele, promised a thorough investigation into the incident by the National Civil Police and the Attorney General’s Office. This tragedy follows a similar stampede in East Java, Indonesia, in October 2017 that killed 135 people.
On Sunday, tragedy struck the football-crazed country of El Salvador when a stampede following a football match between two of the nation’s most popular teams resulted in 12 deaths and 47 injuries.
Terrifying scenes unfolded at San Luis Stadium in El Salvador when the final whistle of the local derby between Espana andDragón sent revellers spilling into the stadium’s stands. Supporters of the losing team, Espana, quickly became restless and threatened to vandalise the stadium in protest. In an attempt to contain the unrest, security forces locked gates at the exits, trapping both supporters and correspondents inside.
The resulting pressure inside the stadium became too much as the crowd attempted to exit and forced those on the bottom of the stands into a stampede. Evidently, one victim died at the scene and eleven others died later as a result of their injuries. All twelve victims ranged in age from fifteen to forty-five years old.
El Salvadorian officials have criticised the unorganised handling of the incident by both the stadium’s security personnel and the police. In the wake of the tragic incident, Rescue Chief César Quirós said, “It’s a shame that the few who lost control had to affect so many.” Quirós is overseeing the ongoing investigation into the incident as well as other measures taken to ensure that similar incidents don’t occur in the future.
The disaster has been a massive wake-up call for El Salvador; a nation that relies heavily on its football culture for national identity. El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has promised the victims’ families that the government will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of stadium guests in the future.
The tragedy in El Salvador serves as a reminder for us all that such disasters can happen when safety protocols are not followed. As we move forward, our utmost priority must be the protection of all those in attendance. Let us honour the memory of the victims of the El Salvador stadium stampede by doing our part to ensure that such an event never happens again.
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