[Even “al-Qaeda” would find it hard to beat these casualty numbers.]
Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds injured after a football riot erupted in an Egyptian stadium, following a match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masry.
By Chris Irvine
The number of deaths varied from between 25, according to the Nile News Channel, up to 73, according to AFP. It is feared that the death toll could rise due to the number injured.
There were reports of rocks, bottles and fireworks being thrown at the staduim in Port Said, about 127 miles north-east of Cairo. Television pictures showed images of fans descending on to the pitch, throwing flares and chasing players, after al-Ahly, the away team, won 3-0.
Most of the victims reportedly died from suffocation or head injuries, according to al-Jazeera.
Soon after reports of the pitch invasion spread, Egyptian television showed images of a fire at a separate match in Cairo’s soccer stadium, after the referee cancelled a match between the teams Zamalek and Ismaili.
Egypt’s deputy health minister called it the “biggest disaster in Egypt’s soccer history.”
Egypt’s parliament said they would hold an emergency session on Thursday, according to state TV, and all premier league matches have been cancelled.
It is thought that the lower level of police presence could have been a contributing factor to the violence. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, their presence has been very light.
“In the security vacuum that has lasted since the revolution, the police force has basically disappeared from the street after their notorious performance during the revolution,” said Rawya Rageh of al-Jazeera.
In September, Al-Ahly supporters clashed with police in Cairo after they began chanting slogans denouncing Mubarak. Almost 80 people were injured in the ensuing melee.