12 die in stampede at Salvadoran soccer match
A tragic incident occurred Saturday night during a quarterfinal football (soccer) match between Alianza and FAS, where a group of desperate Alianza fans knocked down a gate in their attempt to enter the stadium, resulting in injuries and fatalities. The calamity took place at the Cuscatlán stadium in San Salvador. By Sunday morning, the official death toll sat at 12, with more than 80 sent to local hospitals. Sunday afternoon authorities announced that most of the injured had been released from the hospital.
Lamentable. Reportan estampida en el Estadio Cuscatlán de El Salvador— Luis Omar Tapia (@LuisOmarTapia) May 21, 2023
Informa @CNNEE que ha aumentado a 12 el número de muertospic.twitter.com/4WCTorm86G
Witnesses blamed both stadium authorities and the police for the tragedy. It was alleged that an entrance gate was closed, which led fans still outside to knock it down in desperation. The ensuing stampede left some trampled to death and others suffocated in the crush.
The incident occurred early in the match, causing alerts and prompting fans to pour onto the field. Reports of injuries and deaths spread quickly, and the match was halted. Rescue workers and fellow fans provided assistance to the affected individuals, transporting them on stretchers or in arms for medical attention.
Early allegations, not yet supported, blamed the tragedy on excess sales of tickets in that zone of the stadium, producing a stampede of angry fans holding tickets outside when the entrance was closed with the game already underway.
"The Salvadoran Football Federation deeply regrets the events that occurred at the Cuscatlan Stadium," the organization wrote on Twitter.
"It also expresses solidarity with the relatives of those affected and deceased in this incident."
The federation added that they would immediately request a report on the incident while also suspending the tournament after Saturday's events, calling for a meeting with the Security Commission of Sports Venues on Sunday.
El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said the National Civil Police and the Attorney General's Office would conduct a "thorough investigation" into the events at the stadium.