(Natural News) A stampede at a nightclub in Lima, Peru left at least 13 dead and six injured, as partygoers attempted to escape a police raid on the venue. Police were called to the Thomas Restobar in the capital city on Saturday, Aug. 22, to enforce social distancing and curfew rules in place following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residents in Los Olivos district of Peru’s capital city alerted police of the illegal party, believed to have more than 120 people in attendance. The party was thrown into chaos as officers arrived to break up the illegal assembly, with partygoers trampling on one another as they tried to flee through a single exit from the second-floor venue. The 13 victims were 11 men and two women, all between the ages of 20 to 30. Officials said that the cause of death was either asphyxiation or being crushed to death.
In response, Interior Minister Jorge Montoya extended his condolences to the victims.
“The Minister of the Interior deeply regrets the death of thirteen people as a result of the criminal irresponsibility of an unscrupulous businessman,” read his statement.
A follow-up statement stressed that the police did not use any firearms or tear gas and strictly followed the lawful process of dispersal. A total of 23 people were detained after the raid, while police picked up the club’s owners – a married couple – on Sunday, Aug. 23.
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra echoed a similar sentiment during a public event as he urged the public to reflect, so no more lives will be lost due to negligence.
“I have sorrow and I have sadness for the people and relatives of the people who have died, but I also have anger and indignation for those who were irresponsible by organizing this type of event,” added Vizcarra.
Stampede latest in Peru’s fight against coronavirus
The tragic stampede is the latest development in Peru’s ongoing fight to head off new coronavirus cases. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Peru’s coronavirus caseload is now at 600,438 – the second-highest in Latin America and sixth-highest number of total cases worldwide. In addition, the country has 27,813 deaths, as of Tuesday morning. (Related: Latin America the new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic.)
In response, the government has placed strict measures in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. This includes the closure of bars and nightclubs, a ban on extended family gatherings, physical distancing rules and a 10 p.m. curfew. Despite these rules, the owners of Thomas Restobar continued to organize weekly Saturday parties, according to Alejandro Ruiz, a security guard assigned near the area, in an interview with local media outlet RPP.
In addition, 15 of the 23 individuals picked up during the raid tested positive for COVID-19, with 13 branded as actively contagious. A minor was among the 15 people who tested positive for the coronavirus. The public prosecutor’s office in Lima also noted that 11 of the 13 victims also tested positive for COVID-19. All 60 police officers who participated in the tragic raid at Los Olivos had also been tested for the coronavirus.
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