Spain: 3 dead, 2 hurt in Halloween party stampede

Spain: 3 dead, 2 hurt in Halloween party stampede

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

A picture taken on November 1, 2012 shows part of a Halloween costume and rubbish at the car park of the Madrid Arena stadium in Madrid, where three young women died during a Halloween celebration. Partygoers stampeded in a huge Halloween event in Madrid in the early hours of November 1, creating a terrifying human crush that killed three young women, Spanish police said. The crush, apparently in a passageway in the stadium, killed three women aged between 18 and 25 and left another two women with grave injuries, police officials said. AFP PHOTO/ DOMINIQUE FAGET (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on November 1, 2012 at 4:37 PM

MADRID (AP) — A stampede in an arena where thousands of people were attending a Halloween dance party killed three women and critically injured two others early Thursday, officials said.

It happened just after 4 a.m. in a passageway within the venue leading to the central concert area at Madrid Arena, where the disco-style party with American DJ Steve Aoki was under way.

Someone set off a flare or a firework, causing the stampede that trampled the five young women, Deputy Mayor Miguel Angel Villanueva said.

One witness said the stampede left partygoers piled atop one another as high as her shoulders.

"I saw a mass of people . screaming 'Help, get me out of here,' with security guards tugging at them," Ana Gomez told state broadcaster TVE. "I remember seeing the face of one young man, and his expression was that of sheer terror."

Thousands of people were attending the party when the stampede occurred, leaving the victims with trauma injuries or breathing and heart failure, emergency services spokesman Fernando Prado said.

Villanueva said the venue's maximum capacity of 10,600 people had not been exceeded and that authorities decided not to evacuate the arena when the accident occurred. Most partygoers were not aware of the stampede because it was confined to the passage, he said.

Aoki said he was "devastated" to hear about the deaths and cancelled a planned show in the northern city of Bilbao on Thursday night "out of respect for those who lost their lives and those who are injured."

He said "the safety of my fans has always been my top priority and had I known that there was any distress putting people in jeopardy within the venue I would have ended my show immediately."

Halloween has recently become a popular festivity in Spain, coinciding with the traditional feast of All Saints.

In Germany, 19 people were crushed to death in a stampede and 342 others were injured two years ago at a techno party in Duisburg.

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