Two dead after Gulf Cup stampede in Iraq

A stampede outside a stadium in southern Iraq has killed at least two people and injured dozens, a health official has said.

Witnesses blamed the deadly incident on what they said was bad organisation.

The deadly incident happened as spectators gathered on Thursday to attend the final match in the first international soccer tournament held in the country in four decades.

The official Iraqi News Agency said some of the 60 people who were injured outside the Basra International Stadium were in critical condition.

The match was held Thursday night and Iraq defeated Oman 3-2, winning the eight-nation Arabian Gulf Cup.

Earlier in the day, a physician at Basra General Hospital told The Associated Press that two people were killed and 38 were injured, some of whom have been discharged from the hospital. The physician spoke on condition of anonymity.

"There was no coordination. Lots of people came here but regrettably, there was no organisation," said Hassan Hadi. He arrived in Basra from the southern Iraqi city of Najaf three days ago to attend the final match and was not able to enter.

Riot police beat some spectators with clubs to push them away from the gate when the stampede erupted, he said.

Saddam Hassan, an ambulance driver, said there were people of all ages standing by a metal fence leading to the entrance where the stampede took place. He said his ambulance took injured with "bruises and broken bones" to hospital.

Iraq's Interior Ministry in a statement urged people without tickets for the final match to leave the stadium area. It said the stadium was full and that all gates have been closed.

Iraq's new Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, who arrived in Basra on Thursday, urged people to help authorities in order to "show the final match of 25th edition of the Gulf Cup in its most beautiful form."

In the afternoon, Basra authorities said the situation was under control and that the crowds had moved away from the stadium.

Oman's Foreign Ministry expressed condolences to the Iraqi government and people over the stampede, and wished the injured a quick recovery.

The tournament featured teams from the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- as well as Yemen and Iraq.

It's the first time since 1979 that Iraq has hosted the tournament.