CORINALDO, Italy – A rush at a rap concert in an overcrowded Italian nightclub killed five teenagers early Saturday, as well as a woman who had brought her young daughter to the event, authorities said. Fifty-three people were reportedly injured, 13 of them in a very serious condition.
A video broadcast on Italian national television RaiNews24 showed a crowd of teenagers rushing out the door and heading for a low wall near an exit to the Blue Lantern nightclub in the Italian town of Corinaldo, near Ancona, on the Adriatic coast. The barrier then seemed to give way and a cascade of teenagers collapsed on it, falling on top of each other.
The bodies of the trampled victims were all found near a low wall, the Cmdr of Ancona firefighters. Dino Poggiali told Sky TG24 News.
The dead teenagers were aged 14 to 16 and the mother who had been killed was 39, said Colonel Cristian Carrozza, commander of the paramilitary police Carabinieri of the province of Ancona.
The deceased woman had accompanied her eight-year-old daughter to the concert and was the mother of four children, the Italian daily Il Messaggero reported.
The rout made 53 wounded, including 13 in a very serious condition, said an official of the Ministry of the Interior of Ancona.
The Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta, popular with young teenagers, was scheduled to perform on the scene. The authorities said the organizers had sold far too many tickets for the space used.
Ancona's chief prosecutor, Monica Garulli, told reporters on the spot that nearly 1,400 tickets had been sold, but that the discotheque only has the capacity to accommodate 870 people.
Later, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who went to the scene of the tragedy, said the disco had three rooms but inexplicably used only one of them, with a capacity of 469 people, for the concert.
As prosecutors investigate, "the government must be wondering what to do to prevent such tragedies from happening again," Conté told reporters.
The debacle took place shortly after 1 am, less than 30 minutes before the beginning of the concert.
According to Italian media, spectators claimed that someone had sprayed an irritant, which triggered panic. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that there was apparently a "stench" of an irritating substance.
The head of the Ancona police, Oreste Capocasa, said the dead teenagers were three girls and two boys, announced the Italian ANSA news agency. Public radio said most of the dead had their heads crushed in the fray.
The doctors of the main Ancona hospital said that the most serious wounded, all aged 14 to 20 years, had suffered brain and chest injuries, while others had been injured on the arms or legs .
Sfera Ebbasta wrote on Twitter that he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy, thanked the rescuers and offered his "affection and support" to the families of the dead and wounded. Out of respect for them, he said that he was canceling some promotional appearances to come.
The rapper said he did not want to "judge" those responsible, but added that he wanted everyone to "stop" and think about how dangerous and stupid it is to use pepper spray in a disco ".
The Poggiali firefighter's commander said that it was too early in the investigation to find out whether security breaches could have played a role in the tragedy. He said that when the rescuers arrived, all the doors of the discotheque were open.
The firefighters first focused on helping the survivors, who were lying on the road outside the club, before starting their investigation, he said.
Salvini promised that responsibility would be determined for the "six broken lives – anyone who would come out of wickedness, stupidity or greed to turn a party into a tragedy."
The Italian head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, asked that "a light be given on what happened, to determine the responsibilities and possible negligence".
"Citizens have the right to safety wherever they are, in workplaces and places of entertainment," Mattarella said.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis bowed his head to pray silently after telling some 30,000 pilgrims and tourists of St. Peter's Square that he was praying "for the young and the mother", as well as for the many wounded in the concert .
Italian high schools, which are generally open on Saturdays, were closed this weekend for the National Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th. It could have made it more likely that young teenagers had come out at such a late concert.
D'Emilio reported from Rome.
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