The soccer disaster that killed 95 fans in Sheffield occurred when a police official, fearing a wall would collapse from the crush of the crowd, ordered an outer gate of the stadium opened, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
As investigators readied an official probe, officials called for a ban on standing-room-only areas like the one where fans on Saturday were crushed against a riot-control fence along the playing field or trampled.The death toll rose to 95 when a critically injured fan died overnight at Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, a hospital spokesman said on condition of anonymity. The victim was not identified.
Of the 170 people injured in the disaster at Hillsborough stadium in the northern city, 25 remain hospitalized, 19 in intensive care.
The government inquiry was scheduled to begin Tuesday together with a coroner's inquest on six of the people who died.
The Times of London and the Daily Mail identified the police officer in charge who ordered the late Liverpool arrivals to be let in as Superintendent Roger Marshall. The Times said Marshall gave the order because he feared a wall was about to collapse on the crush of late arrivals.
The paper quoted the head of South Yorkshire police, Chief Constable Peter Wright, as saying he had information that will vindicate his officers but said he could not reveal it because of the government inquiry.
The Daily Mail said Marshall ordered a sliding steel gate to be opened to relieve the potentially fatal pressure outside of fans being crushed against the outer gate.
Hillsborough gatekeeper Jack Stone was quoted by the Sheffield Star newspaper on Monday as saying he refused police orders to open the outer gate and was forced to hand over his keys to a police inspector.
"I handed the keys to him and told him it was his responsibility and not mine," Stone was quoted as saying.
Hurd told the Commons that the decision of a senior police officer to open the gate because he "considered there was possible danger to the lives of the spectators at the front" would be a central question for Taylor's inquiry. He did not name the officer.
Survivors said about 4,000 fans were pushing at the turnstiles trying to get inside.
Hurd also said major soccer stadiums should do away with the cheaper standing-room-only areas and provide "all-seated accommodation."
Several soccer clubs, including Liverpool, announced Monday that they were preparing to tear down riot-control fences around playing fields.
The disaster occurred at an English Football Association Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
British fans have a bad reputation for violence - rioting Liverpool fans are blamed for the 1985 Heysel stadium disaster in Belgium when 39 mostly Italian fans died - and rival supporters are segregated and fenced in at Hillsborough and many other grounds to stop them from fighting and running on the field.