Last Saturday, 20 May, three journalists from Diario El Mundo were present to cover the return match of the Clausura 2023 tournament quarter-finals, Alianza vs. Club Deportivo FAS at the Cascatlan Stadium. witnessed one of El Salvador’s most memorable tragedies. soccer.
A week after the incident that killed 12 people, this is what journalists are saying.
We arrived at the stadium with just an hour to go before the game started, but the atmosphere around the stadium was just like a final match, with fans of both teams chanting in hopes that their clubs would advance to the semi-finals of the tournament. I was.
Once on the stadium field, I and another colleague stopped in the south corner of the stadium, in front of the stands of Alianza fans.
From the start, he watched Alianza’s fans run across the stands and couldn’t understand what was going on.
About 10-15 minutes into the game, a UMO agent pulled out a baton and tried to hit the fan as a fan tried to open the access gate to the field, but the police explained what was happening in the stands. After that, I opened the gate. .
Fans entered the field for help and Alianza player Henry Romero approached the billboard to observe the fans calling for help.
After this, some players and a rescue team approached the area to help the fans, but before that, from one moment to the next, at least 20 people lay on the field, screaming for oxygen and shouting ” I can’t feel my legs,” he said.
A number of photographers from various media outlets immediately came to document what was happening, to which Arianza’s head of public affairs responded, “Don’t bring anything and stay away from the area.” and instructed.
The stadium was flooded with Alianza fans trying to escape from what had happened and others calling for help.
In the crowd, I could see the fan being treated by the paramedics, receiving oxygen and resuscitation. At that moment, medical personnel said, “He has left us,” and his friends and family yelled for life-saving efforts to continue. he.
That scene gave me a big shock. Because I was discussing the development of the game with my colleagues before the game started. I never imagined going through such a situation.
After the experience, I returned home at midnight, but I was able to sleep until around 2:00 am, even though I still remembered.
The game started and I was in the right corner of the goal with the FAS goalkeeper. The match began with classic intensity, eight minutes later when one of the general sun area gates that allowed access to the box opened and shirtless fans came out.
I thought he was the one who came in to hug the players, but when I turned the camera to the scene and read his lips through the viewfinder, he was “drowning” and pointed to the gate with his arm. rice field.
The other photographers ran towards the spot, but since they were always climbing on the fan at the gate, they assumed someone had fallen, so they started walking towards the scene.
I was already there, but when I got closer, I saw a man of about 37 years old sitting with his son in his arms trying to catch his breath, then a couple trying to give him some air, then a fan I saw a group of people trying to give my son some air. Their shirts were pointed at the dying subject.
My intention as a photojournalist was to document what happened, but I was so inebriated that a boy in the Alianza communication area started telling me not to take pictures. fans started threatening me. I was beaten when I was taking pictures, and a woman tried to take my camera away, so I walked away.
But the spokesperson said, “It’s your fault for taking the picture of them.” From my point of view, this only gave the fans further arguments to continue threatening and attacking despite the fact that I was doing my job.
There, FAS players help white fans in need by holding them in their arms, airing them with their shirts, and moving fences to call out more people in need. I started.
A cameraman from outside the stadium told me six more people had died due to general sun intrusion. After that, many people started to enter the field and the panorama became more complicated than before, so I decided to leave. On my way out, I saw the same confusion. There were ambulances everywhere, PNC officers, soldiers, lifeguards, people crying and calling their loved ones to say they were out of danger.
I moved to the General Sun Gate, where I found the body of Ms. Angelica Ramirez. This woman later attended a funeral where she orphaned a child under the age of three. The tragic scene was delimited by yellow tape and several UMO agents. Four more bodies were found above the common sun entrance, along with several ambulances patrolling the scene.
A few minutes later, I returned to the stadium, where there was another body, nine dead at that point.
Authorities later said 12 people died that night. I saw empty stadiums and believed the worst was over, but time will prove I was wrong. After 10:00 p.m., the team of Diario El Mundo decided to leave the stadium and meet at the entrance of the public sun. There, relatives of Angelica Ramirez and 11 other families began arriving.
“It was my first time in the stadium,” said one of my relatives through tears. “I know she’s alive, please wake up.” The next word is that the same woman tried to go through the yellow tape but was quickly stopped by PNC officials.
The body was removed from the Cuscatlan stadium at 11:38 pm, but waited until 12:00 pm to be able to speak to relatives who were crying over their loss.
I got home at 12:40, but I couldn’t sleep even though I was tired, and it was 3:30 in the middle of the night.
emerson del cid
It was located in the south corner of the stadium, opposite the entrance to the stands where Alianza fans came to Englamirado for treatment.
I remember seeing a crowd of people at the South General Sun Entrance, and thought they were just entering, but later rescuers and rescuers were passing towards the area. I observed the
One after another, I wondered if some people were suffering from respiratory ailments because of the flares lit by Alianza fans. All the while the game continued. Afterwards, as everyone began to despair and I watched more rescue teams heading into the area, I realized something was wrong.
As I approached the area, the first sight I saw was more than seven people dead on the grass to breathe, while more fans were blowing air in their shirts. It was a sight to behold.
While covering the event, I thought ‘I hope no one dies’, but seconds later I heard the news that the first fan had died. Then I saw another fan being resuscitated, but he didn’t respond and many people were “blue” from lack of breathing. The match, which was supposed to be a tournament semi-final match, was unrealistic.
When I started sending out documented materials, more people started flocking to the lawn. The match had already been suspended at this point and fans had to leave the stadium through a different exit from where the tragedy occurred.
Together with another photojournalist colleague, we observed the two victims from the entrance. As you go up to another aisle, you can contemplate the scale of the tragedy. There are piles of shoes here and there, Alianza shirts and scarves, hats, glasses of beer. What a mess, I thought.
I stepped down from the stands and on one side of the lawn access were three other dead people covered in Alianza’s tablecloth. The three were in the same place less than an hour ago, discussing life and death with dozens of people.
After that, I went to my fellow reporters, edited what I had documented, and went to the stall department. At that time, I remember commenting that there was a victim outside the stadium and that it was a woman. We decided to see how the body reconnaissance work was going on.
During the trip, we discussed incidents that occurred in different areas of the stadium from each other’s perspective. The sound of sirens that never stop ringing will remain in the memory of the participants.
Upon arrival, yellow tape had been set up restricting the passage of the deceased woman, who apparently had relatives there. Observing the faces of people in disbelief at what happened, remembering the words of relatives of the victims. “It was the first time he came, but now this is happening.”
During my stay at the place, some colleagues and I were told that this is not the first time something like this has happened and that appropriate measures are in place to ensure the safety of matches with large crowds. He said he knew this would happen because he hadn’t been taken. We conclude that we expect this to be a tipping point in changing strategies for hosting all kinds of events that bring together large numbers of people.
I left the stadium around midnight thinking it had always been one of my favorite places, but now when I think about the place I can’t help but think of that tragic moment. not.