Other dozens have been injured, 13 of them seriously. The incident took place at about 01:00 (midnight GMT) as Italy began celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. About 1,000 people were inside the Lanterna Azzurra club attending a concert by a rapper. “Acrid smell” after probably someone sprayed a substance similar to pepper spray panicked concertgoers and forced crowds to rush towards the emergency exits and people began falling off a walkway.
The tragedy is reported to have occurred at one exit that connects the establishment to a car park via a footbridge as the crowds ran towards it, causing a balustrade to give way. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said investigators would try to find out if overcrowding was also one of the causes. “We have spoken to several witnesses, it is an enormous and complex case, but we can’t say anything more at this stage,” police commander Cristian Carrozza declared to media. Pope Francis said during Saturday’s Angelus prayers that he would pray for “the children and the mother who died last night … as well as for the injured”. One woman died and more than 1,500 were injured last year when the use of pepper spray provoked a stampede on a square in the northern city of Turin as people gathered to watch the Champions League final.