• Kyodo

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Fifty-three people needed treatment for eye and respiratory complaints after being sprayed with a tear gas-like substance during a brawl between rival baseball fans at Nagaragawa Stadium in Gifu Prefecture, officials said Thursday.

Gifu police said the gas was sprayed into the stands from the field as violence erupted after the game Wednesday night between the Hanshin Tigers and the Chunichi Dragons.

Police said they are searching for a young man with brown hair and a Hanshin Tigers megaphone who is suspected of releasing the gas.

The fighting broke out at around 9:30 p.m. after the Central League-leading Tigers beat the Dragons 7-2 in a game watched by 23,000 spectators.

According to witnesses, about 10 Tigers fans descended onto the field after the game to taunt Dragons fans seated behind right field.

Several Dragons fans responded by jumping onto the field and a fight broke out.

After fighting spread into the passageway between the right stand and the infield stand, witnesses saw a young man using a spray, police said. Pandemonium broke out as people inhaled the gas, and witnesses said several people in the passageway slumped to the ground.

The local fire department said the 53 people were given first-aid treatment in a tent on the field. It said 31 of the victims were sent to hospitals and seven were hospitalized.

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