- As at least seven killed in suicide bombing at high-profile funeral in Kabul
More than 1,500 people are thought to have been injured – three of them seriously – after Juventus fans watching the Champions League final stampeded in a Turin square after mistaking firecrackers for an explosion or gunshots.
Thousands of people had gathered in Piazza San Carlo on Saturday night to watch Juventus play Real Madrid on giant TV screens. During the second half of the match loud bangs led to a sudden rush in the middle of the crowd, causing a surge that flung people against barriers.
Many were trampled as people began to run out of the centre of the square, screaming in fear. The stampede may been started by the explosion of a loud firecracker that was mistaken for a bomb, some witnesses suggested.
“I heard an explosion, which must have been a huge firecracker,” a witness told La Stampa, one of Italy’s daily newspapers. However, another suggested it may have been the result of a security barrier falling over.
“They shouted, there’s a bomb, evacuate the square,” a member of the audience told the paper. “So we ran away. There were people on the ground, and blood and glass everywhere.”
One of the fans, who was caught next to the barriers, said: “I felt I was being lifted up. It was terrible.”
Although initially police said 200 people needed hospital treatment, the Italian news agency Ansa later put the figure at 1,527, using hospital tallies.
Most of the injured were treated for cuts and light contusions, but three people, including a seven-year-old boy, were reportedly in a serious condition.
“The root cause of this was panic,” said the local official Renato Saccone. “We’ll have to wait a while to understand what triggered it.”
In a statement, local authorities said the crowd “was seized by panic and by the psychosis of a terror attack” fearing that the loud noise was caused by attackers.
Shoes and bags littered the ground in the aftermath of the stampede, and people were seen limping and searching desperately for friends and relatives. Police have set up an information point to help people find their loved ones, and are now investigating what caused the panic.
“I saw the entire piazza went in the direction next to the screen to escape, all in a panic,” Brian Hendrie, an Associated Press reporter, said. “They ran, fell on the ground on the glass.” He said some reported having heard a small explosion, others a shot. “I heard five or six different versions. It sparked a panic.”
Within minutes, dazed fans in Juve’s black-and-white jerseys returned and milled about the piazza amid the broken bottles and rubbish littering the cobblestones, with the match largely forgotten.
In the meantime, at least seven people have been killed and more than 119 wounded in three separate explosions at a high-profile funeral in Kabul, the third attack in four days in the Afghan capital.
The funeral was for one of several protesters killed on Friday at a large demonstration calling for the resignation of the government after a large truck bomb killed nearly 100 people on Wednesday.
The ministry of public health said seven people had been killed on Saturday, while Reuters reported up to 12 dead. Wahid Mujro, a ministry spokesman, said 119 people had been injured. Numbers were likely to rise, given the density of the crowd of more than a thousand people.
The funeral for Salem Izidyar, the son of the senate deputy speaker, was attended by many high-ranking current and former officials, including the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah. According to his office, Abdullah was not hurt in the explosions.
After the blasts, Abdullah drove to Izidyar’s grave and participated in the burial, said his spokesman, Mujib Rahman Rahimi. On returning to his residence, Abdullah spoke on national television.
The first blast, which some attendees said came from an improvised explosive device, went off during the pre-burial prayer. It was followed by two more, when a pair of suicide bombers detonated their explosives.
Toryalai Shufaee, an aide to Zubair Massoud, the son of the former vice-president Ahmad Zia Massoud, who was at the funeral, said: “When I woke up, I saw dust everywhere and dead bodies, bodies that had been burned.”
Other prominent politicians at the ceremony included the foreign minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, and the former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh. All escaped without serious injuries.
Footage of the explosions showed the consecutive blasts sending people running in all directions.