Indonesia police: Stadium exit gates too small for escape
Divers were forced to dive for their lives after a stampede during the opening ceremony of the 2013 Asian Beach Games in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia (CNN)
In an effort to limit injuries among fans during the opening ceremony of the 2013 Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia’s police said on Thursday (May 28) they had closed the main exits of the football stadium.
The stadium — which seats 70,000 — was packed on arrival Wednesday, with thousands desperate to get out, but police said there was not room for everyone.
Police have now told the sports minister that as soon as the ceremonies are finished, the remaining exits will be opened to traffic.
Security personnel have been put on alert after the crush on Wednesday night saw the police force use tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the stadium. At least one person was injured and one police officer injured in the stampede.
The police said they had closed the exits because they did not have the fire extinguishers to protect the people behind the gates from the flames. After they did not find enough fire extinguishers, they resorted to using tear gas.
“The exits are blocked because there aren’t enough fire extinguishers,” said chief police commander Dedi Prasetyo.
“They’re not in short supply because there’s a need for them everywhere. But we have them, but they need to be deployed properly to protect the people inside.”
The minister of police, Tjahjo Kumolo, said the government has decided that the remaining exits must be opened to traffic.
“Because the main entrances have been closed, that’s how we will reopen the main entrances to the stadium,” he told reporters.
Police say they will not release any images of the incident, but a BBC reporter on the site says the police have released video footage of the chaos, and one fan who survived was taken to hospital later on Thursday.
The incident is being investigated by the local police chief, and the governor of the Bali province, Soekarm Herus, said the police have been instructed to submit a report to the attorney general in Jakarta, where a hearing is scheduled on Sunday.
A day after the incident, the police said they had arrested 17 people for rioting and looting, and had confiscated hundreds of assault rifles.
The chief of the security force, P. Indrit, says the incident