Seven suspected members of a criminal gang have been taken into police custody, accused of triggering a deadly stampede at a concert for teens in central Italy, prosecutors said Saturday.

Six people died in the panic that broke out inside the Lanterna Azzurra nightclub in Corinaldo, near the port city of Ancona, on December 8 last year.

Read moreCaracas party stampede: 17 dead in tear gas panic

Ancona Chief Prosecutor Monica Garulli told reporters that six of the suspects allegedly used a pepper spray-like substance with the aim of stealing valuables from people in the crowd.

“They are youths aged between 19 and 22 who took advantage of busy concerts to commit the crimes by using an irritant spray,” Garulli said. They are accused of manslaughter and for causing injury to 197 people. The seventh suspect is accused of receiving stolen goods. 

Italian emergency service workers load victims into ambulances

Six people were killed in the stampede at the Lanterna Azzurra

Deadly crush

The victims included three girls and two boys, aged between 14 and 16, as well as a 39-year-old woman who was accompanying her daughter at the concert. Almost 200 others were injured.

Around 1,000 revelers were packed into the venue waiting to see Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta when the pepper spray was unleashed at around midnight.

An initial investigation found that the force of the jostling crowd caused a railing near the club’s exit to collapse. Dozens of people fell over the ledge, crushing others below.

Read more: Italian Mafia, bikers, Berlin clans: Europe’s crime gangs

In 2017, a group of thieves using pepper spray also sparked a stampede that killed two people and injured more than 1,600 others at an open-air screening of the Champions League soccer final in Turin. In that case, four people were sentenced to prison on manslaughter charges.

Watch video 04:44

Employed by the Italian Mafia

nm/jlw (AFP, AP, EFE)

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