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Six die in nightclub stampede in central Italy

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-12-08 13:14

Rescuers work outside of a nightclub near the city of Ancona, Italy, on Dec 8, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

ROME -- At least six people were killed and 100 others injured in a stampede overnight at a nightclub in central Italy, local media and authorities said Saturday.

The victims were five minors -- three girls and two boys -- and a 40-year-old woman who had accompanied her daughter to the disco "Lanterna Azzurra" in the town of Corinaldo near Ancona, about 200 km northeast of Rome, Ansa news agency said.

The nightclub was due to host a rapper's concert last night, which local report said around 1,000 people were attending.

Firefighters and Red Cross teams were immediately sent to the scene, and the investigation was carried out by Italy's military police Carabinieri.

The incident occurred between 12 p.m. and 1 a.m. local time. The victims lost their lives after a stampede of panicked teenagers brought about the partial collapse of a rampart outside the facility, according to the authorities.

Among the about 100 injured people, 12 were in serious condition while seven teenagers were under intensive care.

The cause of the panic would have been the use of a stinging pepper spray among the concertgoers, the Fire Corp explained on Twitter.

"The cause may have been the dispersal of a stinging substance, young people fled and stepped on each other. Unfortunately, six people died, (and) dozens injured," the firefighters wrote.

A video circulating on social media showed a large throng of young people crowding a narrow passageway outside the exit of the nightclub. Suddenly, one portion of the passageway appeared to cave in, and those standing there could be seen falling.

After a preliminary investigation, the authorities were inclined to confirm such dynamic.

"The parapets outside the exit gate have collapsed, the people there fell and were crushed by the crowd," Ancona police chief Oreste Capocasa told state TV channel Rai News 24 TV channel.

Firefighters said it was too early to say whether any safety rules had been violated and told local media that all the emergency exits were open when the firemen first arrived, thus dismissing some witnesses' accounts that at least one door was blocked.

One crucial factor now to ascertain would be whether the number of people attending the concert exceeded the legal capacity of the nightclub, according to investigators.

"We are listening to witnesses to reconstruct the event, since many young people actually saw the incident," Carabinieri provincial chief Cristian Carrozza told Sky Tg24 news channel.

Ancona police chief Capocasa also told Sky Tg24 there were "ongoing investigations, along with firefighters, in order to verify the number of those present." He added the official capacity of the disco was 870 people.

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