ROME (Reuters) - Six people, including five young teenagers, were crushed to death in the early hours of Saturday following a stampede at a packed nightclub near Ancona on Italy’s Adriatic coast, officials said.
The deaths occurred when a walkway leading out of the Lanterna Azzurra nightclub in the town of Corinaldo collapsed, causing dozens of people to fall into a trench below.
Three girls, two boys and a mother who had accompanied her child to the event died in the crush. Police said the teenagers were aged between 14 and 16, while the dead woman was 39.
More than 100 other people were injured, 13 of them seriously.
Local officials said witnesses reported seeing a hooded man spray a substance like pepper spray or tear gas into the crowd, triggering a panicked rush to the emergency exits.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who also serves as interior minister, said there were many more people than permitted inside the club, where popular Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta had been due to perform.
“The main hall had a capacity of 469 and they sold 1,300 tickets,” a somber Salvini told reporters after visiting the site. “You can’t die at 14 in this way. You don’t need new laws here. You need to have a conscience and respect existing laws.”
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters that it appeared that only one of the nightclub’s three halls had been open at the time. “The numbers are all wrong,” he said.
Magistrates have opened an investigation into the deaths and there was no immediate comment from the nightclub’s owners.
Reporting by Philip Pullella and Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alexander Smith and Gareth Jones