Six people are dead — five of which were teenagers — after a stampede in an Italian nightclub, BuzzFeed News is reporting. More than 100 people were injured after panic broke out at a concert for the rapper Sfera Ebbasta at Lanterna Azzurra club in Corinaldo. Investigators are currently looking into the use of a sprayed substance, which may have sparked the deadly stampede. Survivors recall attempting to escape an unknown substance similar to pepper spray, slightly before 1 am local time on December 8.
The stampede resulted in the deaths of Asia Nasoni, 14; Daniele Pongetti, 16; Benedetta Vitali, 15; Mattia Orlandi, 15; Emma Fabini, 14; and Eleonora Girolimini, 39, who had accompanied her daughter to the concert. USA Today reports that the primary cause of death for the fatalities was a crushed skull. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio confirmed the situation on Facebook.
“It’s absurd to die like this,” he wrote.
There is also speculation that the club was over capacity, with around 1,000 people in attendance. The club is said to only be able to hold less than 900 people. Italian President Sergio Mattarella is assuring the public that authorities will get to the bottom of what happened. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also released a statement via Facebook calling for a proper investigation.
“Now it is time for relief and grief, but it is clear that there are numerous questions about the responsibility of this tragedy, [with respect to] the safety standards, which will have to find a clear, rapid, and unambiguous response. We demand it,” he wrote.
5 of the 6 people killed in a stampede at a nightclub in Italy were between the ages of 14 and 16, according to officials. Another was the mother of a young attendee. https://t.co/g7fjp6quvu— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 8, 2018
Those injured were rushed to hospitals in Senigallia and Ancona. It’s been confirmed that at least seven people are in the intensive care unit. Pope Francis led a silent prayer at the Vatican “for the young people and the mama” who lost their lives, prompting 30,000 people to bow their heads with him. December 8 also marks the national holiday of the Immaculate Conception. While Italian high schools are usually open on Saturday, they were closed this weekend in observation of the holiday. Many are theorizing that this could contribute to the amount of young people that were out in the early hours, as they did not have to worry about attending school the next morning.
Sfera Ebbasta, the rapper performing that night, took to Instagram to express his condolences.
It is difficult to find the right words to express the regret and pain of these tragedies,” he wrote.
In addition to reports of a sprayed substance and the club having been overcrowded, investigators are looking into claims that a bouncer blocked one of the exits and turned away patrons who were attempting to escape.