At least six people died and dozens were hurt during a stampede of panicked concertgoers, many of them young teenagers, at a disco on Italy’s central Adriatic coast early Saturday, authorities said.
The dead included three girls, two boys and a woman. Police said 59 people were injured, which took place around 1 a.m. local time.
Carabinieri paramilitary police Col. Cristian Carrozza said the teen victims ranged in age from 14 to 16 and the woman was 39. Of those injured, 13 were in serious condition, he said.
The woman had accompanied her daughter to the Lanterna Azzuerra (Blue Lantern) club in Corinaldo, near Ancona, where Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta was set to perform, Ancona Police Chief Oreste Capocasa said.
Up to 1,000 people were believed to be inside the disco.
“It was a mess. The bouncers were getting the persons out,” one unidentified witness told RAI state radio. “I went out the main door. People fell, one after the other, on top of each other. Absurd.”
“It was a mess. … I went out the main door. People fell, one after the other, on top of each other. Absurd.”
There was panic after pepper spray was fired inside the club, according to the BBC, citing other reports.
But Ancona Firefighters Cmdr. Dino Poggiali said he didn’t have any immediate confirmation from survivors that the use of an irritant, like pepper spray, had set off the panic.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said there possibly was a “stink” that could have been ammonia or another substance.
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.
A 16-year-old boy told Italian news agency ANSA that disco patrons were dancing while awaiting the start of the concert when the stampede erupted.
“We were dancing and waiting for the concert to start when we smelt this pungent odor,” a 16-year-old boy (unclear if he’s the same person) told the media, according to Al Jazeera. “We ran to one of the emergency exits but we found it blocked, the bouncers told us to go back.”
The boy was being treated at a hospital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.