CAIRO – Witnesses say scores of Egyptian soccer fans were stabbed to death while others suffocated, trapped in a long narrow corridor trying to flee rival fans armed with knives, clubs and stones in the country's worst ever soccer violence.
At least 74 people died and hundreds were injured after Wednesday's game in the seaside city of Port Said, when disgruntled fans of the home team, Al Masry, rushed the pitch, setting off clashes and a stampede as riot police largely failed to intervene.
Ahmed Ghaffar, one of the visiting Al Ahly fans at the stadium, says "layers of people" were stuck trying to escape, "suffocating inside a narrow corridor."
Activists have accused the police and military of failing to intervene to deepen instability and chaos in Egypt, a year after ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
"This is unfortunate and deeply saddening. It is the biggest disaster in Egypt's soccer history," deputy health minister Hesham Sheiha told state television, according to Reuters.
After the incident, Egypt's Football Federation delayed league matches indefinitely, the report said.
A security official and a medic said fans of the home team, Al-Masry, swarmed the field after a rare 3-1 win against Al-Ahly, Egypt's top team. They threw stones, fireworks, and bottles at the fans and injured some players.
A medic at a morgue in Port Said, a city on the Mediterranean coast, said some of the dead were security officers. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
The causes of the deaths were not immediately known.
The players were later taken to the locker room for protection, Sayed Hamdi, a player told state TV.
Soon after the violence, a soccer game in the Cairo Stadium between the Al-Ismailiya and Zamalek teams was called off in mourning for the violence in Port Said.
State TV showed video of sections of the Cairo stadium on fire. The announcer said angry fans of the Zamalek protested the cancellation and set some sections of the stadium on fire.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.