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6 killed, 100 injured in nightclub stampede in Italy

08 Dec 2018, 23:34 ( 5 Months ago) | updated: 09 Dec 2018, 00:58 ( 5 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Rescuers work outside of a nightclub near the city of Ancona, Italy, on Dec. 8, 2018. At least six people were killed and more than 100 others injured on Saturday in a stampede during a concert in central Italy. Photo Xinhua.

Six people died and dozens were injured in an incident following a stampede at a nightclub in Italy's central Marche region early on Saturday.

   The victims were five minors aged between 14 and 16, and a 39-year-old mother who had gone with her daughter to the disco "Lanterna Azzurra" in the town of Corinaldo near Ancona, about 300 kilometres northeast of Rome.

   The six died after a stampede of panic teenagers brought about the partial collapse of one ramp just outside the nightclub, according to preliminary investigation.

   The incident occurred between 12 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Saturday, as people were waiting for a rapper very popular with Italian teenagers to begin his concert, Ancona police chief Oreste Capocasa told state TV RAI News24.

   The performance had not yet begun when panic broke out.

   One of the videos published on social media and gathered by investigators as evidences showed a throng of young people running out of the disco, crowding the narrow passageway just outside the exit.

   Suddenly, one barrier of the passageway appeared to collapse, and those standing there can be seen falling down.

   The cause of the panic which had triggered the stampede would have been the use of pepper spray inside the club, according to firefighters

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

   Authorities were investigating into possible culpable manslaughter, and one crucial factor to ascertain was whether the number of people at the concert exceeded the real capacity of the nightclub.

   "We are verifying whether the number of tickets sold coincides with the real number of people who were inside last night," Monica Garulli told local media at the scene of the disaster.

   "We have determined over 1,300 were sold, and the capacity (of the disco) is of about 800 people," she added.

   Earlier in the day, Ancona police chief Capocasa had put the capacity of the club at 870.

   At least 67 people were injured to various degrees and treated in hospitals in Ancona and Senigallia, health authorities said. Twelve were in serious conditions, and seven - all aged between 14 and 20 - remained in intensive care units, doctors with Torrette hospital in Ancona told a broadcast press conference.

   "At the moment, we have 7 red code cases, namely 2 girls and 5 boys: all of them have head trauma, chest trauma, or both," said emergency coordinator Roberto Papa.

   Abele Donati, director of the intensive care unit, said the prognosis of the seven patients "remains reserved, meaning they have to be considered at risk of life."

   "However, their conditions are stable," Donati added.

   Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte visited the scene, launching an appeal to managers of clubs and public spaces to "respect all safety rules and ascertain security conditions."

   "Safety regulations are there, and must be respected. If there is room to improve them, the government will not shrink from doing it," Conte told reporters outside the hospital.

   Also visiting Ancona, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini specified that no conclusion could be drawn while the investigation was ongoing, but added that "clearly something has not worked."

   President Sergio Mattarella sent a message of solidarity to the families of the victims, asking investigators to shed full light on what happened and "ascertain any responsibility or negligence."

   "It is a tragedy that leaves (people) petrified... Citizens have the right to be safe everywhere, whether in workplaces or entertainment venues," Mattarella declared.

   The investigation was run by Italy's military police Carabinieri, and checks on possible safety violations were being carried out together with firefighters.

   Firefighters said it was still too early to determine whether safety rules had been violated, but that the emergency exits of the nightclub were open when they first arrived at the scene.