Four Die in Crush at A1 Appearance in Indonesia

March 19, 2001 -- Four teenage girls were crushed to death Sunday at a performance by British boy band A1 at a shopping mall in Jakarta, Indonesia.

"When the band started singing, everyone was pushing to get to the front, trying to get a view," one witness said.

Hundreds, mostly girls, had flocked to the popular shopping center in Jakarta to hear the group perform at a third-floor music store. Witnesses said the band performed without a stage.

"The band is, at this point, in an extremely shocked condition," Sony Music Indonesia managing director Susanto Haryono told a news conference, before calling for a moment of silent prayer for the dead girls.

"They are really, really concerned about their fans, so this is something that is beyond their comprehension. That is the reason why the band is not here [at the news conference]."

Two other girls were critically injured and the four singers had to be evacuated as the frenzied crowd of mostly young girls ballooned out of control. Two event organizers in Indonesia were charged with criminal neglect, according to the BBC.

The band, named best newcomer at the Brit Awards in the United Kingdom last month, has had seven Top 10 hits — including two No. 1 singles — since its debut in 1999.

The members of the group left Indonesia, the last leg of an Asian promotional tour, early, on a flight for Singapore, a spokesman said.

In the Philippines' capital, Manila, the band canceled a similar appearance at a mall when a crowd of more than 20,000 fans stormed the complex, toppling barriers and breaking a window, A1's official Web site said.

At another location in the Philippines, the band was forced to call in security to clear roads near a performance.

"Before the arrival of the group, there were only about 1,000 fans there and things were very much under control," Sony media relations consultant Ida Sudoyo said of Sunday's incident.

"But as soon as they started signing autographs— in a matter of minutes, [the crowd] multiplied so that there ended up about 3,000," Sudoyo told reporters. "When they realized it, within 10 minutes only, the band was evacuated."

Top foreign bands, once common at the height of Indonesia's economic boom in the mid-1990s, rarely come to a country still struggling to pull out of three years of social and economic chaos and communal violence.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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