Two dead, dozens injured in stampede at Gulf Cup in Iraq

At least two people have been killed and dozens injured in a stampede at a stadium in Basra in southern Iraq ahead of the Arabian Gulf Cup final.

The Iraqi interior ministry told Al Jazeera that two people had died and about 80 have been in injured in the stampede on Thursday.

Some of those injured were in critical condition, the official Iraqi News Agency quoted a medical source as saying.

Iraq are set to face Oman in the final of the eight-nation football tournament at 7pm (16:00 GMT) on Thursday.

Thousands of fans without tickets had gathered outside the stadium since dawn in hopes of watching the rare home international match.

A photographer with the Agence France-Presse news agency 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.

‘Such chaos’

Journalist Ismael Adnan, reporting from near the stadium, described the situation as “very chaotic”.

Football fan Moumen Adnan described to Al Jazeera how he was injured outside the stadium.

“I did not expect such chaos to happen,” he said. “Because of the stampede, I fell and injured my hand. I hadn’t been able to enter the stadium, but because of the stampede I entered through the journalists gate. I don’t expect the final to take place under these difficult circumstances.”

Iraq’s interior ministry in a statement urged people who don’t have tickets for the final to leave the area around the stadium. It said the stadium is full and all gates have been closed.

Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Basra, said some people without tickets tried to push into the stadium, according to sources in stadium security.

“Security has been calling for people to refrain from pushing at the gate,” Abdelwahed said. “Meanwhile, the prime minister arrived in Basra and has met with officials of Basra to look into the incident. He is calling on the fans to cooperate with security at the stadium.”

“According to the Iraqi Football Federation, about 90 percent of the tickets were already sold ahead of the kickoff,” Abdelwahed said, adding that this upset many Iraqi football fans, some of whom had travelled across several provinces to go to the game.

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