Tens of thousands of fans, many weeping, filed past the coffin of football superstar Diego Maradona on Thursday in ceremonies that mixed head-of-state-like honours with the chaos of a rowdy stadium.
Viewing was halted shortly before 6pm as the family wished and the body of the Argentine icon was taken away for burial, frustrating many that were waiting to pay their respects.
Fans singing football anthems, some draped in the national flag, formed a line that stretched more than 20 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo, where Argentines gathered to celebrate the Maradona-led triumph in the 1986 World Cup.
But with the time for viewing the coffin at the nation's presidential palace drawing short, police moved to cut off the back end of the crowd, enraging fans who hurled rocks and other objects at officers, who responded with rubber bullets.
The crowd overwhelmed organisers and the violence resulted in injuries and arrests, which led Maradona's family to end the public visitation. The casket was placed in a car that carried the former footballer's name on a paperboard by the window.
Desperate to say goodbye, Maradona's fans climbed on the fences of the presidential mansion as if they were in a soccer stadium, while firefighters worked to clear the ground.
"Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the people," people chanted as the coffin was taken to a cemetery outside Buenos Aires. The motorcade, accompanied by police, was followed on a local highway by dozens of honking cars and motorcycles.
Maradona died yesterday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation November 3.
People took to the streets, laying flowers and candles at the mural of Maradona at Estadio Diego Armando Maradona, the stadium that bears his name in Buenos Aires.
Maradona's body was taken to the presidential palace in Argentina with the government declaring three days of mourning.
Argentinian president Alberto Fernandez offered the use of Government House to Maradona's family.
Fans quickly gathered outside the palace with hundreds trying to get a final look at the national hero with a wake held with fans filing in to see his coffin draped in an Argentinian flag.
Some fans reached out for the coffin as many paid their last respects.
But outside the palace, some fighting erupted.
"You have to be here. There was no way this wouldn't happen. Somehow this is Maradona too, breaking the rules," said Marcelo Gades, a 52-year-old employee, who was waiting to enter the wake with a rose in his hand.
"Argentina is Maradona, and Maradona is Argentina, with all the good and all the bad."
There were reports of people kicking down fences in clashes with police.
Marca.com reported physical clashes between the security and fans as well as tear gas allegedly being used.
The BBC's Wyre Davies in a tweet to BBC's South American correspondent Katy Watson said " I think Maradona's wake & funeral are going to be tumultuous events."
Buenos Aires Times reported that "as many as one million people will want to pay their respects to the legendary late footballer".
The ugly scenes captured on TV cameras appeared to be a small minority however with most fans respectfully remembering the late superstar.
Fans cheered, blew car horns, set off sirens and sang songs while football stadiums across Argentina was lit up at 10pm, in a tribute to his famous No 10 jersey.
An autopsy report leaked to media said he died in his sleep after suffering heart failure.
He was only taken to hospital a fortnight ago to remove a blood clot in his brain.
Stunned Argentines were plunged into grief by the death of the country's favourite son Diego Maradona, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as "the most human of Gods."
The news fell like a hammer blow to a nation beaten down by months of economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, but one where soccer is seen as a panacea for all ills.
At the Diego Maradona stadium, home to the Argentinos Juniors club where Maradona played as a child and made his debut as a professional player, fireworks were launched as a large crowd flooded into the field to the cry of "Maradooo, Maradooo."
Earlier, fans searching for a place to grieve gravitated towards the Obelisk landmark in downtown Buenos Aires — and, of course, the Bombonera, the steep-sided cauldron of a stadium that is home to Boca Juniors, where Maradona's genius was forged.
"I can't believe it. It's incredible. One thinks one gets through any storm, but no, everyone ends up being mortal. It feels like a bad dream. A joke," Francisco Salaverry, 28, told AFP.
"Today's a bad day. A very sad day for all Argentines," President Alberto Fernandez summed up in an interview with sports channel TyC, after declaring three days of national mourning.
All around the city, the mourning had already begun as fans stood forlornly beside banners in homage to the Number 10, showing Maradona in his dashing prime.
Many of the banners simply said D10S, a play on the Spanish word "dios" for "God" that includes Maradona's jersey number.
Maradona's massive wake sparked some criticism on social media, especially as the government had limited the number of people who could attend wakes and funerals to contain the Covid-19 virus.
"So many people together to say goodbye to Maradona is a source of direct contagion of COVID," 55-year-old Argentine doctor Alberto Ugalde told Reuters. "I see that on the street people are crowded and even some without face masks."
"I understand the pain, given what an idol he is for us, but the health risks are high."