Six killed in crush ‘after pepper spray fired’ in packed Italian club
FIVE teenagers and a 39-year-old mother were crushed to death in a stampede after someone allegedly fired pepper spray in a crowded Italian nightclub yesterday.
The six victims died near the exit of the Blue Lantern disco in Corinaldo, about 90 miles east of Florence.
Their skulls were reported to have been crushed.
Another 53 people were injured in the panic at about 1am, with 13 said to be in serious condition.
Video showed a low wall inside the club appearing to give way, sending teenagers cascading over it and falling on top of each other.
The dead teenagers – three girls and two boys – were aged between 14 and 16. The mother who was killed had brought her daughter to a rap concert at the club.
Doctors in nearby Ancona said the most critically injured, all between 14 and 20, had head and chest injuries.
Clubgoers have reported that the panic started when their eyes began to sting.
Local media say that someone in the crowd released pepper spray, perhaps during a fight or as part of a robbery.
“The cause may have been the dispersal of a stinging substance. The young people fled and trampled over each other,” the fire service said in a statement.
The Blue Lantern appeared to be overcrowded, which may have contributed to the chaos, according to Matteo Salvini, the Italian interior minister.
Local prosecutors said that the venue had sold 1,400 tickets but it had a capacity of only 870.
Mr Salvini vowed that authorities would prosecute whoever was responsible, saying they “transformed an evening of partying into tragedy”.
The crowds had gathered to see Sfera Ebbasta, an Italian rapper, but the stampede took place shortly before he was due to take the stage.
Mr Ebbasta wrote on Twitter that he was “deeply pained” by the tragedy, thanked rescuers and offered his “affection and support” to the families of the dead and the injured.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis bowed his head in silent prayer after he told some 30,000 pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square that he was praying “for the young people and the mama” as well as for the many people injured at the concert.
Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, demanded that a “full light be shone on what happened, ascertaining any responsibility and negligence”.
Rescue service workers tend to the injured at the entrance to the Blue Lantern club