Egypt’s football riot leaves 74 dead, 248 wounded

 A riot in the Egyptian city of Port Said has left 74 dead and at least 248 wounded after football fans stormed the pitch before engaging in running battles.

 The country has announced three days of mourning.

 The majority of the victims died from suffocation and head injuries, health ministry officials said.

 Doctors are calling on the local population to donate blood for the injured because the violence has drained hospital reserves.

 Some of the more seriously injured were evacuated by transport helicopter from the northern city of Port Said to be treated in military hospitals.

 The army also dispatched troops to the city to prevent further violence from flaring.

 Stadium mayhem

 The deadly fight broke out on Wednesday night following a match between the local Al-Masry and the visiting Al-Ahly football teams, which have a long history of rivalry.

 The home players scored a rare victory against one of Egypt’s strongest clubs, and the team’s fans rushed onto the pitch.

 Some of the Al-Masry fans were said to be offended by an insulting sign held up by Al-Ahly supporters held during the game.

 In a bid to take revenge, they cornered rival fans, players and coaches.

 “The players’ room has turned into a morgue,” said Ahmed Nagy, Al-Ahly’s goalkeeper and coach.

 Speaking to the club’s television channel, player Mohamed Abo Treika described the violence as a war.

 “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… This is a horrible situation and today can never be forgotten,” he said, as cited by Al Arabiya.

 As the ensuing clash erupted, thousands of people tried to flee the violence.

 Dozens were crushed in the resulting stampede.

 Mourning and conspiracy

 Port Said governor and the province’s security chief resigned after news of the mayhem broke.

 So reportedly did president of the Al-Masry.

 The Egyptian state football federation has postponed all national league matches indefinitely.

 A match which was underway when the violence in Port Said started was halted.

 Thousands of Egyptians took to the street overnight to honor the victims of the riot, as the country announced three days of mourning.

 In Suez the commemoration was marred when some radical Al-Ahly fans clashed with police.

 The attack on a security post was cut short with tear gas.

 The tragedy, coming on the heels of the first anniversary of its revolution, may have political repercussions.

 The Muslim Brotherhood’s Isam Al Aryan accused allies of ousted President Hosni Mubarak of orchestrating the bloody clashes.