Tear gas explosion at Caracas club results in 17 deaths – minister
Five people were also wounded at the crowded club in the Venezuelan capital Caracas early on Saturday after a tear gas canister was detonated, setting off a stampede.
Image shows the exterior of the Los Cotorros club in the middle-class Caracas neighbourhood where 17 people died after a tear gas canister was detonated during a brawl setting off a stampede on June 16, 2018 in Caracas, Venezuela. (Reuters)
At least 17 people died at a club in Caracus early on Saturday morning when a person activated a tear gas grenade inside setting off a stampede, Venezuela’s interior minister Nestor Reverol said.
The deaths occurred after a brawl broke out during a middle school graduation party and someone detonated the tear gas, sending more than 500 people rushing for the exits, said Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol.
Eleven people suffocated to death when the gas filled the club’s confined space, said Noris Villanueva, an autopsy assistant at the local Perez Carreno Hospital, who examined their bodies. It was not clear how the other six died.
Eight of those who died were younger than 18, Reverol said, and five people were injured and taken to hospital for treatment.
Reverol said authorities had arrested seven people and an investigation into the incident was ongoing.
Witnesses said a minor, one of seven people detained in the incident, is suspected of setting off the tear gas.
“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, led by President Nicolas Maduro, deplores this unfortunate event. We send our condolences to the families,” he said.
The club, a two-story red brick building, was empty later on Saturday morning and there was no police presence outside, according to a Reuters reporter there.
“We haven’t received a response from anybody, neither from the police nor the doctors,” Nilson Guerra, the father of one victim, said at the hospital.
He only knew his 19-year-old son Luis had died because he had seen him in the morgue. Another son of his had been hospitalised.