Diego Maradona in life, as in death, was involved in chaos and controversy, and his funeral was not the exception. In effect Argentine police and fans who were lined up to see the casket of the football icon clashed on Thursday as authorities moved to shut down access to the Casa Rosada presidential palace ahead of a planned mid-afternoon shutoff for the public wake.
Images on local TV appeared to show canisters of tear gas being thrown, with riot police and others on motorbikes even firing rubber bullets, trying to hold back the crowd, desperate to pay respects to Maradona who died on Wednesday, aged 60.
Thousands of fans had been queuing for more than a mile through the streets of Buenos Aires since early on Thursday to see the casket, which was lying in state before a planned burial later in the evening some 35 kilometers from Buenos Aires.
But when the order to limit access to the presidential palace became effective, chaos broke out and the fans overwhelmed the several rings of poorly organized security forces. Fans climbed the grids surrounding Casa Rosada while others stormed the building.
Military personnel from the presidential secret service had to rescue to safe rooms president Alberto Fernandez, and the First Lady, vice president Cristina Fernandez and several cabinet members that where standing by the casket, covered in the Argentine colors and crests from different football teams .
Maradona family members and the casket also had to be taken to safety from the invading fans, shouting, singing, crying, celebrating, and some of them drinking water or refreshing at the garden fountains of the presidential palace.
Finally the mob was peacefully convinced to abandon the premises, and the family decided it was time to end with the funeral and fifteen minute later the convoy left for the Bella Vista private cemetery.
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