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Riot erupts in Vancouver after hockey loss

Rioters torched cars and smashed buildings in downtown Vancouver late Wednesday after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup 4-0 over the Vancouver Canucks.

world Updated: Jun 16, 2011 12:39 IST

Rioters torched cars and smashed buildings in downtown Vancouver late Wednesday after the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup 4-0 over the Vancouver Canucks.

Fist fights broke out in the crowded streets even before the game ended as the crushing defeat of the home team became obvious.

By the time the Bruins accepted the cup inside the Rogers Arena, outdoors windows were being smashed, stores looted and fires set until black smoke blanketed the downtown core of this western Canadian city.

Hospitals reported injuries from stabbings, falls, head injuries and tear gas. Dozens of cars, including at least two police cruisers, were flipped over and burned by vandals who dashed in and out of the crowds of some 100,000 hockey fans.

Young men and a few women, most wearing hoodies with black T-shirts wrapped around their heads, took apart street blockades and launched them into windows of area businesses including banks, restaurants and shops.

Four workers huddled in broken glass inside the Da Gino Restaurant on Georgia Street as young men and a woman continued to hurl rocks at the storefront windows.

"They're destroying the city," said one distraught woman inside, who declined to give her name.

Many fans dressed in Canucks jerseys appeared upset at the destruction, with some even yelling at the vandals to stop.

"Way to showcase our city, guys," said Ajay Parmar, who stood angrily in his Canucks jersey as a few young men used street barricades to smash the windows of a coffee shop across from a church.

"This is our city, and it's us taxpayers who are going to pay for all this damage," his friend Gurmail Saroya told AFP. "It's disgusting."

Hours after the riots started, the emergency department of St. Paul's, the major downtown hospital, reached capacity and was forced to close, sending patients to other area hospitals.

"It's extremely disappointing," Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told reporters after the game, blaming a few troublemakers among the masses of hockey fans.

A riot erupted here the last time the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup finals and then lost, in 1994, but the city seemed surprised this time after successfully hosting the Winter Olympics here last year.

Police efforts to clear the crowds from downtown were stymied when public transit shut down soon after the riots began and bus drivers said they were not safe.

Some dejected fans in Canucks jerseys began walking away from the downtown zone, but thousands of others stood watching and taking photos of the vandals.

"People taking videos of them only encourages them," said a female police officer, as she stood blocking crowds from entering an alley where a car blazed.

Police, including several forces called in from surrounding municipalities, used tear gas, flash bangs, dogs and horses to move people along.

Mostly, though, small groups of police could be seen calmly walking down the streets, moving people even as a few people within the crowds hurled objects at them.

First Published: Jun 16, 2011 12:35 IST