Turin (Italy) (AFP) – More than 1,500 people were injured, three seriously, after a bomb scare triggered a stampede among Juventus fans watching the Champions League final in Turin, local authorities said Sunday.
In an update on Saturday’s dramatic events in a square packed with supporters watching the Cardiff match on a giant screen, the local prefecture said 1,527 had been treated for mainly minor injuries.
Three people were in a serious but not life-threatening condition, including a young boy. Local media described him as a seven-year-old and said he was in a coma with serious chest injuries after being trampled in the crush.
AFP reporters who witnessed the scenes said the panic seemed to have been triggered by fireworks, followed by one or more people shouting that a bomb had exploded — a notion that quickly filtered through the crowd.
The incident compounded a miserable night for fans of Turin-based Juventus, who lost the final 4-1 to Real Madrid.
It also underlined the impact recent acts of terror are having on a jittery public across Europe, and the dilemmas now faced by organisers of any mass gathering of people following the Bataclan, Paris and Manchester concert attacks.
“This is a city that lives with anxiety and panic is something that is very difficult to control,” said Turin Prefect Renato Saccone.
– Beer bottles –
The scare in Turin came just minutes before another deadly attack unfolded in London with assailants driving a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then going on a stabbing spree before being shot dead by police.
“Even if there have been no Islamist attacks in Italy, the panic of last night shows they are achieving their objectives even here,” said Roberto Calderoli, a Senator for the Northern League.
Several thousand fans had turned up to watch the match in the Piazza San Carlo in downtown Turin.
As fear took hold, a rush towards exit points quickly accelerated and the square emptied so quickly it was left strewn with hundreds of shoes ripped off people’s feet as they ran.
The square was still dotted with shoes, clothes, bags and patches of blood on Sunday morning. The high number of cuts was blamed on beer in glass bottles having been freely available before and during the match from unlicensed vendors.
“We heard a noise, then there was a movement of people like a wave and everyone started falling over each other,” said Luca, one of the fans caught up in the drama.