Qatar unprepared for World Cup air traffic crush, report says
DUBAI (Reuters) – Qatar was unprepared for a crush of more than 30 air passengers to World Cup matches in a four-hour span on Tuesday as fans of the Saudi Arabian team clashed with locals and security forces were forced to intervene, the Daily Mail website reported.
Qatar Airways was “worried” about the crush because of “the high cost of flights,” senior officials told the newspaper.
“It is too late to stop the World Cup now. We will have to be prepared,” one official told the newspaper in a telephone interview.
The Doha-based airline’s chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said he was “unaware of any event like this in the last couple of years” and added that Qatar Airways would be “ready should such an event happen again.”
“What we do not want is to create a scenario with tens of thousands of fans in the air,” he told the Daily Mail website.
Qatar has been criticized over its response to unrest that broke out on the Gulf state’s island of Qatif last month after anti-regime protests.
The latest incident in the Persian Gulf was reported by the Daily Mail website, which broke the story on social media. A video posted online showed one incident of passengers running for their lives in the airport as others tried to push them back.
Qatar’s security forces were seen on their hands and were using pepper spray and teargas to try to restore order.
“I was running out of the airport with about 20 people with me and suddenly police stopped us,” one man who was among the victims told the Daily Mail.
“They said: ‘We have arrested you and confiscated your phones to help restore order’,” he said.
A man who was on the ground told Reuters that the passengers had gathered for a soccer match with the Saudi Arabian team.
On its Facebook page, Qatar Airways said an internal investigation found “no evidence that any passengers were attacked by authorities or anyone else.” The report did not name any officials.
The Saudi Arabian Football Federation said in a statement on Twitter that “at no