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The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"Rescue services had difficulties reaching the dead and injured"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
"The people who were injured are reported to be in a very serious condition"
 real 28k

Sunday, 6 May, 2001, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Iran football stadium collapses
Scenes from Sari stadium disaster
The stadium was packed with 20,000 fans
President Mohammad Khatami of Iran has ordered an immediate inquiry into the collapse of a football stadium in the north of the country during a big game.

Iranian television says more than 200 people were injured and there are unconfirmed reports that several people had died.


The accident happened at the Mottaqi stadium in the city of Sari, 88 km (55 miles) north-east of Tehran, during a match between first division sides Pirouzi and Shamushak.

The BBC Tehran correspondent says that lack of crowd control seems to have been the reason behind the disaster.

At least 20,000 fans are believed to have been in the ground.

The official Islamic Republic news agency (IRNA) reported that rescue efforts have been hampered by the number of spectators.

Tehran television, which was showing the game live, suddenly cut off transmission after the accident.

Sarin stadium disaster
Rescuers were hampered by panic-stricken supporters
The TV station later broadcast scenes of chaos in the ground as people tried to pull themselves from the twisted wreckage of the terrace, which collapsed during the second half.

At least 100 people have been taken to hospital, said a later Iranian television report.

IRNA said rescue services would update the casualty toll as soon as more information becomes available.

Football has become the most popular sport in Iran, with the big games attracting large and passionate crowds.

BBC Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says the collapse at Sari is bound to lead to calls for stricter standards in stadium construction and tighter control on spectators.

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See also:

12 Apr 01 | Football
Football's worst tragedies
04 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
15 Apr 01 | Africa
SA mourns stadium victims
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