ROME (AP) — A stampede at a rapper’s concert in an overcrowded 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.
Video taken outside the concert venue in the town of Corinaldo, near Ancona, and shown on state TV RaiNews24 showed scores of teenagers rushing outside from a disco door and surging toward a low railing or wall near the exit. The barrier then appeared to give way, and a cascade of teenagers tumbled over it, falling on top of each other.
The “giving way of two parapets due to the crush of the young people getting out” probably caused the tragedy, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told RAI.
The bodies of the trampled victims were all found near a low wall near a disco exit, Ancona Firefighters Cmdr. Dino Poggiali had earlier told Sky TG24 News. News reports said the wall was about 1 to 1.5 meters (3 to 5 feet) high.
Overcrowding was also suspected.
“From the initial investigation we have verified that more tickets were sold than the place could hold” in terms of capacity, Col. Cristian Corrazza, commander of Ancona province’s paramilitary police, was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.
Salvini concurred that it is “probably true that there were ... more people inside than was permissible.”
State radio said about 1,000 people were inside the disco when the stampede erupted.
Carrozza said the dead teenagers’ ages ranged from 14 to 16 and that the woman was 39. Of those injured, 13 were in serious condition, he said.
The radio report said most of the fatalities had suffered crushed skulls.
Italian media said the woman who was killed had gone with her daughter to the Lanterna Azzurra (Blue Lantern) disco where rapper Sfera Ebbasta, who is very popular with young teenagers, was set to perform.
The Italian news agency ANSA earlier had reported that someone had sprayed an irritant, which triggered the panic. Minister Salvini said there possibly was a “stink” of something that could have been ammonia or another substance.
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.”
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 added.
Salvini vowed that responsibility would be determined for the “six broken lives — whoever out of nastiness, stupidity or greed transformed an evening of partying into tragedy.”
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.