Scores killed in clashes after Egypt soccer match
By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services
Updated 3:49 p.m. ET:
CAIRO -- Soccer fans rushed the field and rioted Wednesday after a match between fierce rivals in the port city of Port Said, attacking each other with fists, stones, fireworks and bottles. More than 70 people were killed in one of the worst incidents of sports violence in Egypt's history.
A security official and a medic said fans of the home team, Al-Masry, swarmed the field after a 3-1 win against Al-Ahly, Egypt's top team, triggering riots in several parts of the stadium.
Rival fans shot firebombs and fireworks and threw stones, bottles and other objects at each other and some players. Live television footage showed fans running onto the field and chasing Ahly soccer players.
A health ministry official in Port Said said at least 73 people were killed. Hundreds of people were injured, officials said. Hesham Sheiha, deputy health minister, told state television most of the injuries were caused by concussions and deep cuts.
A medic at a morgue in Port Said, a city on the Mediterranean coast, said some of the dead were security officers.
"This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history," deputy health minister Hesham Sheiha told state television. The players were later taken to the locker room for protection, Sayed Hamdi, a player, told state TV.
Egypt Field Marshal MohamedHussein Tantawi, the head of the country's ruling military council, ordered two helicopters be sent to Port Said to evacuate Ahly team members and injured fans.
Witnesses said most of the deaths appeared to have occurred in a stampede after fans of Al-Masry stormed the field. They then chased players and fans from the rival team.
Ahly player Mohamed Abo Treika described the violence as war.
"This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us. There is no movement and no security and no ambulances," he told the Ahly television channel. "I call for the premier league to be canceled. This is horrible situation and today can never be forgotten."
"One of the fans died in the dressing room,” Ahmed Nagi, an Ahly goalkeeping coach, said on Egyptian state television. “And there are thousands of wounded lying in the hallways.”
Soon after the violence, another scheduled soccer game in Cairo between the Al-Ismailiya and Zamalek teams was called off in mourning for the violence in Port Said. Egyptian state TV showed protesters setting fire to Cairo Stadium by angry fans. Flames roared from the upper decks.
Politics cuts deep across soccer teams in Egypt and their fans. Al-Ahly's fans, known as the Ultras Ahly, have been at the forefront of the revolution leading chants and protests against the military.
Egypt's general prosecutor has ordered an immediate investigation into the Port Said violence, NBC News reported.
The parliament said it will hold an emergency session Thursday to discuss the riot.
Egypt's Football Association Executive Committee is holding an emergency session to discuss whether to suspend the remainder of the season.
The worst soccer disaster on record occurred on May 24, 1964, in Lima, Peru, when more than 300 fans were killed and more than 500 injured during riot and panic following unpopular ruling by a referee in a Peru vs. Argentina match.