anonymous heroes save victims of stadium stampede

anonymous heroes save victims of stadium stampede

‘It was traumatic’: When one of the worst dramas in football history unfolded before his eyes in an Indonesian stadium, photographer Adi Bowo Sucipto dropped his camera to save victims of a deadly stampede, one of whom lost their lives.

Crowds at Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang (east of Java island) on Saturday left 131 dead.

Many spectators who managed to escape from the crowded stands where the police sprayed pepper gas took shelter in the press center of the stadium.

Sucipto took a struggling and gasping man there. But like many supporters who were crushed or drowned during the crush on Saturday, he eventually died.

“I was shocked. It was traumatic and I finally walked away,” says the 43-year-old Indonesian, who has been a photographer for over a decade.

Witnessing the horrific events at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Sucipto feels guilty for not rushing to help the other victims that night.

“Why didn’t I help more?” The forty-year-old condemns himself.

Many around the stadium witnessed this tragedy and helped the stampede victims.

Edy Tanto’s small stand outside the stadium was packed with fans watching the derby between Malang’s football team Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya as tickets were not available.

As soon as the final whistle blew, Arema FC fans rushed onto the pitch after their team’s defeat in the neighboring city. That’s when everything changed.

Some fans came out of the stadium. Edy Tanto immediately offered water to victims whose eyes burned from tear gas.

– “Unclear ideas” –

“I had no definite idea,” Tanto remembers, as he sat cross-legged on the floor of his shop.

“I just thought of helping them.”

Some took water bottles from the refrigerators, looking for something to soothe their eyes.

“I didn’t think about the money. We felt sorry for them when they entered[the store]staggering and panting,” Tanto told AFP.

The same scenes were taking place on the other side of the stadium.

The owner of a food stall describes how he rushed to help supporters who took refuge in his shop after being gassed with tear gas while the police were doing nothing.

A woman died in his little shop, he said, and the police began airing his lifeless body with cardboard.

“I acted and taught them a lesson – I don’t care about their rank,” said the trader, who requested anonymity from the authorities for fear of retaliation.

He says he threw them, “You knew he was dead, why did you keep airing him?”

After this surreal moment, the manager says he massaged a woman to soothe him.

These testimonies represent only a fraction of the exemplary actions of those present at the scene of the tragedy on Saturday evening.

The men carried the unconscious victims into ambulances, and supporters refused to let them go, saving their crushed friends, saving their lives.

Like Sucipto, other journalists, photographers and videographers stopped taking pictures that evening to help fans who found themselves in disarray as they tried to leave the stadium.

“As there were so many victims, it was urgent to help,” said Sucipto.

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