At least 73 people have been killed and hundreds of others injured after a pitch invasion at a soccer match in the Egyptian city of Port Said this evening.
Witnesses said most of the deaths appeared to have occurred in a stampede after fans of the home team, Al-Masry, stormed on to the field following a rare 3-1 win against Al-Ahly, Egypt’s top team.
They then chased players and fans from Al-Ahly.
Hesham Sheiha, deputy health minister, told state television most of the injuries were caused by concussions and deep cuts.
A medic at a morgue in Port Said said some of the dead were security officers. The causes of the deaths were not immediately known.
Live television footage showed fans running onto the field and chasing Ahli players. A small group of riot police formed a corridor to try to protect the players, but they appeared overwhelmed and fans were still able to kick and punch the players as they fled.
"This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us. There is no movement and no security and no ambulances," Ahli player Mohamed Abo Treika told his club's television channel.
"I call for the premier league to be cancelled. This is horrible situation and today can never be forgotten."
Egypt's state prosecutors have ordered an investigation into the pitch invasion and the violence that ensued, judicial sources said.
Egypt's football federation indefinitely delayed premier league matches after the violence, state television reported.
In a separate incident a match in a stadium in Cairo between the Al-Ismailiya and Zamalek was called off. Fans rioted and state TV subsequently showed video of sections of the Cairo stadium on fire.
The announcer said angry Zamalek fans protested the cancellation and set some sections of the stadium on fire.
It was the deadliest incident of football violence since October 16 1996, when at least 78 people died and 180 others were injured in a stampede at a stadium in Guatemala City before a World Cup qualifying match between Guatemala and Costa Rica.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter issued a statement tonight to express his sympathy for the families of the victims.
“I am very shocked and saddened to learn this evening that a large number of football supporters have died or been injured following a match in Port Said, Egypt,” the statement said.
“My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives this evening.
“This is a black day for football. Such a catastrophic situation is unimaginable and should not happen.”