Italy nightclub stampede leaves six dead and dozens injured

Five teenagers and a 39-year-old mother were killed in a stampede at an Italian nightclub early on Saturday after someone reportedly released pepper spray and caused a panic inside the crowded venue. 

The six people were crushed to death near the exit of the Blue Lantern disco in the central Italian town of Corinaldo, around 90 miles east of Florence. Another 53 people were injured, with 13 of them in serious condition, according to police. 

The teenagers – three girls and two boys – were all aged between 14 and 16. The mother was bringing her daughter to a rap concert at the club. 

Shortly before the stampede, at around 1am, concertgoers said their eyes began to sting. Italian media reported that someone in the crowd had fired pepper spray, either 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. Sadly, six people died and dozens are injured,” the fire service said in a statement. 

Emergency personnel treat victims after a stampede at a nightclub in CornaldoCredit:

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 were but its capacity was only about 870 people.

Mr Salvini vowed that authorities would prosecute whoever was responsible, saying they “transformed an evening of partying into tragedy” with their “nastiness, stupidity or greed”.

The crowds of young people 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. 

The rapper said he didn’t want to "express judgment" on those responsible but added he wanted everyone to "to stop and think how dangerous and stupid it is to use pepper spray in a discotheque."

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 mamma" as well as for the many injured at the concert.

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Doctors in the nearby city of Ancona said the most critically injured, all between 14 and 20 years old, had suffered cranial and chest traumas, while others had injuries on their arms or legs. The dead were reported to have suffered crushed skulls.

Video showed a low wall inside the club appearing to give way, sending a cascade of teenagers tumbling over it and falling on top of each other.

Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, demanded that a "full light be shone on what happened, ascertaining any responsibility and negligence."

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