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Last Updated Dec 8, 2018 10:39 AM EST
CORINALDO, Italy — A stampede at a rap concert in an overcrowded Italian disco killed five teenagers early Saturday along with a woman who had brought her young daughter to the event, authorities said. Fifty-three people were reported injured, including 13 in very serious condition.
Video broadcast on Italian state TV RaiNews24 showed scores of teenagers rushing out of a door and surging toward a low wall near an exit of the Blue Lantern disco in the central Italian town of Corinaldo, near Ancona on the Adriatic coast. The barrier then appeared to give way and a cascade of teenagers tumbled over it, falling on top of each other.
Italian media quoted concertgoers as saying that someone had sprayed an irritant, which triggered the panic. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said there apparently was a “stink” of some irritating substance.
The bodies of the trampled victims were all found near a low wall, Ancona Firefighters Cmdr. Dino Poggiali told Sky TG24 News.
The dead teenagers’ ages ranged from 14 to 16 and the mother who was killed was 39, said Col. Cristian Carrozza, commander of the Ancona province Carabinieri paramilitary police. The dead woman had accompanied her eight-year-old daughter to the concert and was the mother of four children, Italian daily Il Messaggero reported.
Many of those who were injured suffered broken limbs and crushing wounds, BBC News reported.
Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta, who is popular with young teenagers, was to perform at the venue. He 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.”
Authorities said the organizers had sold far too many tickets for the space utilized. Ancona Chief Prosecutor Monica Garulli told reporters at the scene that about 1,400 tickets were sold but the disco has the capacity to hold only about 870 people.
Later, Premier Giuseppe Conte, who visited the scene of the tragedy, said the disco had three rooms but inexplicably only used one of them, with a capacity of 469 people, for the concert.
While prosecutors investigate, “the government must ask itself what to so that such tragedies must never happen again,” Conte told reporters.
The stampede occurred shortly after 1 a.m., less than 30 minutes before the concert was to start.
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.
Last year, in June, about 1,500 people were hurt in the Italian city of Turin after a firecracker led to a stampede at a screening of the Champions League final, according to the BBC.
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