At least 74 people were killed and hundreds injured when rival fans clashed Wednesday after a football match in Port Said, highlighting a security vacuum in post-revolution Egypt.
Flares are thrown in the stands during clashes that killed 74 after a football match between Egypt's Al-Ahly and Al-Masry near Cairo on Wednesday.
In one of the deadliest incidents in the sport's history, violence erupted as soon as the referee blew the final whistle in a match which saw home team Al-Masri beat Cairo's Al-Ahly 3-1.
Flames rise from Cairo Stadium that was set ablaze after a match between Zamalek and Ismaili clubs was called off due to violence in nearby Port Said, where 74 died in clashes. Pic/AFP
Al-Masri fans flooded the pitch, throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at Al-Ahly supporters, sparking chaos and panic as Al-Ahly players and fans ran in all directions trying to flee, witnesses said.
A TV grab shows football fans rush on to the field after a match between Al-Masry and Al-Ahly teams in Port Said near Cairo on Wednesday
Photos of bleeding players circulated on the Internet. Gunfire was also reported on the main road leading to Port Said from Cairo, and troops were deployed to prevent further clashes.
"The death toll has now reached 74, including one policeman, in the unrest after the match between Al-Ahly and Al-Masri," the health ministry said in a statement.
"Most of the people were killed in the crush," Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim added, while medics said some of the deaths were the result of stab wounds.
State TV said around 1,000 people were injured in the violence but the interior ministry put the number at 248. The ruling military announced three days of national mourning, while the Port Said security chief was summoned to Cairo over the events.
The clashes in the northern city -- blamed by the Muslim Brotherhood on supporters of fallen president Hosni Mubarak -- came as the country struggles with a wave of incidents linked to poor security.
Shops in Port Said, which sits at the entrance to the Suez Canal, shut their doors as private cars helped to shuttle the injured across hospitals.
"There are dead people lying on the ground! There are dead people in the changing room," Al-Ahly striker Emad Meteab told the team's satellite channel.
"I won't play football anymore until these people get justice," a furious Meteab said.State television showed footage of riot police standing rigidly in rows, as pandemonium erupted around them.
Egypt's hated police force had recently come under fire for its heavy-handed tactics and had been given instructions to deal carefully with protesters, sources said.
The interior ministry said 47 people were arrested, as the prosecutor general ordered an immediate investigation into the violence.