At least 13 people have died in a stampede in Peru as police raided a nightclub to enforce the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
About 120 revellers had gathered for an illegal party at the Thomas Restobar in the capital Lima on Saturday night, the interior ministry said.
As officers cleared the second-floor club, revellers tried to escape and began trampling on one another, according to authorities.
People became trapped between the only entrance door, which was pushed closed in the chaos, and a staircase leading to the street, with police having to force the door open.
The 13 victims were 11 men and two women between the ages of 20 and 30. They were either crushed to death or asphyxiated.
At least six people were injured, including three police officers.
The club’s owners – a married couple – have been detained, the interior ministry said.
More from Peru
Police said a total of 23 people were held and that no firearms or tear gas were used during the raid.
Fifteen of those detained tested positive for COVID-19, president Martin Vizcarra said.
Image: Forensic experts at the scene of the tragedy
The interior ministry said the incident was due to the “criminal irresponsibility of an unscrupulous businessman”.
Franco Asensios, who was at the party, told a local radio station the police raid had begun at 9pm and women were told to exit first.
“People got excited and started to go down, and then they said that the people in front were suffocating,” he said.
Officer Jose Luis Amezquita told local media: “The crowd of people wanted to get out, seeing that we [police] were coming in.
“In the hustle of everyone going out, immediately the door closes and we were all trapped. We instructed people to go back so as to be able to get out and rescue those at the bottom. But no-one paid attention.”
The country’s women’s minister, Rosario Sasieta, said: “I ask for the maximum sanction for the owners of this place, which has really been irresponsible, and we are talking about a malicious homicide for profit.”
Peru began lifting lockdown restrictions on 30 June, although nightclubs have not been allowed to open again since they closed in March.
The country has reported about 27,500 deaths from COVID-19 and the daily reported number of infections has doubled to more than 9,000 in recent weeks.
Source : Sky News