TEGUCIGALPA: Thousands of football fans trying to force their way into a stadium for a championship match stampeded in panic when police fired tear gas on Sunday, and at least four people and an unborn fetus were killed in the crush and 25 others were injured, authorities said.

A spokesman for University Teaching Hospital said that the victims died from suffocation and multiple broken bones from being trampled.

“Hundreds of fans hoping to see the sold-out match tried to force their way into a gate at the 35,000-seat National Stadium in the capital Tegucigalpa,” said Miguel Osorio.

“Police fired tear gas and water cannon at the crowd. The fatalities were people who were trampled to death in the crush fleeing the police response.

“Four adults died and more than a dozen were injured, including children. Two died at the stadium as the game was getting under way, and two later at the hospital. The fetus died when its mother suffered severe injuries.”

The stampede happened at Gate 11 of the National Stadium in Honduras’ capital as fans tried to push their way into the jammed venue to see the game between Motagua and Honduras Progreso, officials said.

A police statement said the match appeared to have been oversold. It said the stadium, which has a capacity of 30,000, was already full while crowds of fans were still outside brandishing tickets. People became angry when they couldn’t enter and began forcing their way in, the statement said.

About 600 police officers were guarding the stadium and used water cannon and tear gas trying to push back the crowds.

Motagua won the game 3-0, but club president Eduardo Atala tweeted afterward that “there is nothing to celebrate with what happened outside the stadium”.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2017

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