Stampede at Westlife concert

Sixteen hurt as the crowd surges immediately after the concert for a glimpse of the Irish boy band.

Sixteen teenagers were rushed to hospital here yesterday after nearly being crushed in stampede when a crowd panicked to catch a glimpse of the popular Irish boy band Westlife.

Police spokesman Anton Bahrul Alam said pandemonium broke out at the end of the two-hour concert when the crowd surged forward to the stage, forcing several people to collapse.

“I can confirm that there are no deaths,” he told The Straits Times. “Those who were affected were brought to three hospitals and given immediate treatment.”

He said that all 16 of them were released from hospital yesterday.

He added that despite the presence of 2,000 security personnel, including police, in the 15,000-seat concert stadium in central Jakarta, nothing could be done to control the rowdy crowd.

“They just went out of control seeing the band playing. We tried to stop them, but could not do anything.”

The recent incident takes place just two months after four young fans were crushed to death in a stampede at an autograph signing of the British boy band A1 in a Jakarta shopping mall.

Organisers said that they had taken all the necessary precautions to prevent a repeat of that incident.

Near the concert venue, police set up roadblocks. Besides heavy security, there were also 200 paramedics backed up by a number of ambulances and fire engines for the late afternoon event.

The Antara news agency reported that the clash involved the organising committee’s security personnel and members of the city police guarding the concert site.

Police officers were seen chasing the security personnel, causing a mild panic among spectators at the Soemantri Bodjonegoro sports stadium where the concert was held.

Police said real problems started two hours later when the group was nearing the end of its performance when screaming youths started to push and jostle to get closer to the stage, causing panic and a stampede.

Sales executive Veni Isvianto, 24, who went to the concert told The Straits Times: “I was told that it might be dangerous attending the concert. But who cares. I just love them.”

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