Six people, including five teenagers, have died in a stampede at a nightclub near the eastern Italian coastal city of Ancona.
Rabat – Three girls, two boys and a woman who had accompanied her daughter to the disco, died in the incident overwhelmed by the crowd on Saturday, reported the Italian news agency ANSA.
The teenagers were aged between 14 and 16 and the woman was 39.
Over 100 other people were injured, including 13 with serious injuries, officials said.
People reportedly panicked and ran for the exit of the disco, in a small town of Corinaldo, after a substance similar to pepper spray was spread inside.
Over 1,000 people are thought to have attended the Lanterna Azzurra nightclub where Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta was staging a concert around 1 a.m. local time.
The number of attendees exceeded the capacity of the disco. “The tickets sold are about 1,400 for a capacity of about 870 people,” said Italy’s head prosecutor Ancona Monica Garulli.
Witnesses to the incident said they smelled an “acrid odour” and that the exit doors were blocked as people tried to escape.
“At one point we started to cough, the air was missing like when there is a fire, and we all went to the exit. There were boys who fell in the crush, overwhelmed by others who ran,” ANSA quoted one of the boys present at the disco as saying.
#Corinaldo (AN) #8dic 1:00, squadre #vigilidelfuoco impegnate nel soccorso in una discoteca. Forse per la dispersione di una sostanza urticante, ragazzi fuggono per il panico calpestandosi. Sei purtroppo quelli deceduti, decine feriti pic.twitter.com/NvII0jD7oe
— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) December 8, 2018
Parents of the victims were at the scene
Another witnesses said, “We were dancing while waiting for the concert to begin when we smelt an acrid odour … we ran towards the exit but found it locked, a bouncer told us to go back.”
“We saw bodies lying on the ground, covered with white sheets and a man wandering around like a sleepwalker … He kept saying ‘my daughter is dead’ …”, said another witness, a woman whose 14-year-old daughter was among the injured. But authorities have denied parts of witnesses’ account of the incident, the Guardian reported.
Oreste Capocasa, Ancona’s police chief, said that the club’s exit door was not closed, casting doubt on claims by a number of witnesses, including teenagers and parents who were among the attendees and reported to have run to a locked exit.
“The barriers at the exit fell. People fell and crushed by the crowd,” Capocasa told RaiNews24 on Saturday morning.
Ebbasta said on Instagram: “I’m deeply saddened by what happened last night in Corinaldo… I don’t want to make judgment about this, but I would just like to ask everyone to stop and think how dangerous and stupid it can be to use pepper spray in a disco.”
The Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini was the first to express his condolences to the victims, ANSA reported.