6 dead, dozens hurt in nightclub stampede on Italy’s coast

A stampede at a rapper’s concert at a crowded disco on Italy’s central Adriatic coast killed five young teenagers and a woman who had accompanied her daughter to the event early Saturday, said police, who put the number of injured at 59.

Carabinieri paramilitary police Col. Cristian Carrozza said the dead teenagers’ ages ranged from 14 to 16 and the woman was 39. Of those injured, 13 were in serious condition, he said.

Italian media said the woman had gone with her daughter to the Lanterna Azzurra (Blue Lantern) disco in Corinaldo, near Ancona, where rapper Sfera Ebbasta, who is very popular with young teenagers, was set to perform.

The bodies of the trampled victims were all found near a low wall inside the disco, Ancona Firefighters Cmdr. Dino Poggiali told Sky TG24 News.

The Italian news agency ANSA earlier had reported that someone had sprayed an irritant, which triggered the panic. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said there possibly was a “stink” that could have been ammonia or another substance.

What is “probably true is that there were … more people inside than was permissible,” Salvini said, without citing figures.

RAI state radio said about 1,000 people were inside the disco when the stampede erupted.

Some survivors were quoted by Italian media as saying at least one fire exit was blocked when concertgoers tried to get out. But Salvini said initial investigation “appears to knock down that possibility.” Instead, he said, two parapets had apparently fallen down. It wasn’t immediately clear if that happened because of the stampede or was a cause of the stampede.

Fire commander Poggiali said it was too early in the investigation to know if any safety violations might have played a role. He said that when rescuers arrived, all the doors were open.

Poggiali also said he didn’t have any immediately confirmation about use of any irritating spray. Firefighters had concentrated on giving first aid to survivors, stretched out on the road outside the club, before starting their investigation, he said.

Italian high schools are usually open on Saturdays, but schools were closed this weekend for the Dec. 8 national holiday of the Immaculate Conception. That could have made it more likely that young teenagers were at the disco in the wee hours. Ancona Police Chief Oreste Capocasa said the dead teenagers were three girls and two boys. AP