Twelve people died and hundreds were injured in a stampede at a soccer stadium on Sunday, leaving El Salvador in disbelief.
Authorities claimed that first reports suggested a crush of spectators attempted to enter the 35,000-seat Cuscatlan Stadium in San Salvador, the nation’s capital, to attend a match between two local teams, Alianza and FAS.
Emergency services evacuated spectators from the stadium as ambulance sirens wailed and hundreds of police officers and troops were there to watch the game.
A 28-year-old survivor named Fredy Alexander Ruiz said,“I am traumatized from seeing people thrown on the ground, dead, bruised, with their faces stepped on.”
After the game was delayed due to the stampede, which began ten minutes in, even the players helped with the chaotic rescue operations.
“I had five people on top of me that were suffocating me,” said Ruiz. “Thank God, I was able to grab the foot of a policeman, and he and a friend of mine pulled me out.”
The event would be investigated, according to El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, who also promised that those guilty will be held accountable.
“Everyone will be investigated: teams, managers, stadium, box office, league, federation,” Bukele said on Twitter.
He warned that “whoever the culprits are, they will not go unpunished.”
In a statement, the Salvadoran Football Federation (Fesfut) said it “deeply regrets” the incidents that took place at the stadium and “expresses its solidarity” with the families of those “affected and killed.”
“Fesfut will immediately request a report of what happened and will communicate the relevant information as soon as possible,” it said.
The federation declared on Sunday that “all soccer is suspended at the national level” as a result of the incident.
The catastrophe occurred seven months to the day after a stampede in Malang, Indonesia, which claimed the lives of 135 people, including more than 40 children.