Six people – five of them children – have died and about 47 others have been injured in a stampede of panicked concertgoers in a small town on Italy’s Adriatic coast, authorities have said.
Three girls, two boys and an adult woman, who had accompanied her daughter to the disco in Corinaldo, died at the event on Saturday where an Italian rapper was entertaining the crowd. Ancona police chief Oreste Capocasa told RaiNews24 on Saturday morning that 13 of the injured were in a serious condition. Some 800 people were at the event.
Police are pursuing reports that the audience at rapper Sfera Ebbasta’s concert at the Lanterna Azzurra nightclub ran for the exits after someone sprayed a substance similar to pepper spray.
“It is one of the hypotheses which we are verifying,” police commander Cristian Carrozza said. “We have spoken to several witnesses, it is an enormous and complex case, but we can’t say anything more at this stage.”
Police are also looking into a witness statement that one of the exit doors was blocked as the concertgoers tried to flee. “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.”
Capocasa denied that the main exit door, to where most of the youngsters ran, was blocked. “The barriers at the exit fell. People fell and crushed by the crowd,” he said.
One woman died and more than 1,500 were injured last year when the use of pepper spray provoked a stampede on a square in the northern city of Turin as people gathered to watch the Champions League final between Juventus and Madrid.
Associated Press contributed to this report