Two Persons Dead, Dozens Injured In Stampede At Gulf Cup In Iraq’s Basra

Stampede took place at a stadium in Basra ahead of the Arabian Gulf Cup final between Iraq and Oman.

Two Persons Dead, Dozens Injured In Stampede At Gulf Cup In Iraq’s Basra
The crowd is seen at Basra International Stadium



At least two people have been killed and dozens injured in a stampede at a stadium in the Basra, southern Iraq, ahead of the Arabian Gulf Cup final. The Iraqi interior ministry said that two people had died and about 80 have been in injured in the stampede on the Thursday.



Some of those injured were in critical condition, the official Iraqi News Agency quoted a medical source as saying. Hosts Iraq are set to face Oman in the final of the eight-nation Arabian Gulf Cup at 7pm (16:00 GMT) on the Thursday.



Thousands of fans without tickets had gathered outside the stadium since dawn in the hope of watching the rare home international match. A photographer inside the stadium said the turnstiles were still closed when the stampede broke out. Sirens blared as ambulances arrived to ferry the injured to hospital.



Images posted on social media showed a sea of people outside the stadium. Journalist Ismael Adnan, reporting from near the stadium, described the situation as “very chaotic”. He said it remained unclear if the final would go ahead.



Journalist reporting from Baghdad said the Iraqi interior ministry earlier called on only ticket holders to head to the stadium to attend the final match as there were also non-ticket holders who were trying to enter the stadium. Journalist lines reporting from Basra said there were more than 60,000 spectators outside the stadium.



“Thousands arrived since yesterday night and some slept on the streets, causing road closures and many security forces came to control the crowds,” Jasim said. Iraq was already forced to apologise to its neighbour Kuwait after a scuffle in the VIP section prevented its leader’s representative from attending the opening ceremony earlier this month.



The tournament started on January 6, with teams from the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - as well as Yemen and Iraq. It’s the first time since 1979 that Iraq has hosted the tournament. “According to the Iraqi Football Federation, about 90 percent of the tickets were already sold ahead of the kick off,”



Thousands of fans without tickets attempted to enter the stadium in Basra to watch the final match of the tournament.



Jounalist reported from Basra, adding that this upset many Iraqi football fans, some of whom had traveled across several provinces to attend the game. “Tens of thousands [of people] from other countries, especially from the Gulf states have come to Basra and that has already put more pressure on the already weak infrastructure of the city,” Journalist said.



“The authorities say they are lucky to host such special event, but the city is not as fully prepared as it should be. Basra has been suffering from several problems in past decades such a lack of services, security vacuums and a lot of conflicts even recently.”



Journalist said that the central government in Baghdad has not made any development plans for Basra, “despite the fact that Basra is a rich city - 70 percent of Iraqi oil [comes from here]; it is still suffering and it’s partly marginalised.”