Details of how the emergency services struggled to deal with the unfolding chaos were presented to the jury, including the use of a makeshift process that saw Polaroid photos of the faces of the dead pinned to a notice board for relatives to identify.
Jurors at the specially fitted court, an office building on the outskirts of Warrington, Cheshire, were told they will need to consider a number of questions, including why the police officer in charge on the day, Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, claimed fans had forced their way through a gate at Hillsborough Stadium, home of Sheffield Wednesday, minutes after he gave the order for it to be opened.
The court heard 82 people were declared dead in the stadium, 12 in hospital, one person died two days later and another, Tony Bland, in 1993.
A father and son and four pairs of siblings were among the dead, and the youngest victim was 10.
Describing how the tragedy unfolded, the coroner, Lord Justice Goldring, told the jury Mr Duckenfield had been promoted to his role on March 27, less than three weeks before the disaster.
He was given responsibility for the Liverpool-Nottingham Forest match over a more experienced officer, despite his speciality being criminal investigations rather than public order.
Harrowing details of how the crush escalated were laid out, with emergency services not immediately realising the scale of the catastrophe.
Outlining the events of the day, the coroner said: "Around the time of the kick-off, a terrible crush developed in two pens, within the standing terrace at the west end of the stadium - the Leppings Lane end. That's where the Liverpool fans were standing.
"The pressure in the pens built up. Many of those in the pens suffered terrible crushing injuries."
The inquest continues.