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13 killed while fleeing Peru party raided for defying virus curbs

LIMA: At least 13 people were crushed to death or asphyxiated as partygoers tried to flee a Lima nightclub raided by police because it was open in violation of restrictions imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

At least six were injured, including three police officers, as around 120 people tried to escape Thomas Restobar on Saturday night as police arrived to break up a party on its second level, officials said.

Neighbours had alerted police about the raucous event at the club in the Los Olivos district of the Peruvian capital.

"In these circumstances when people begin to fight to get out, it is tumultuous, everyone goes against each other," Mr Orlando Velasco of the National Police told radio station RPP.

An Interior Ministry statement said the revellers tried to squeeze en masse through the only entrance door and became trapped between the door and a staircase leading to the street.

The illegal birthday party was organised on social media and drew a crowd of around 120, the ministry said.

"Faced with the police operation, which did not use any type of weapon or tear gas, those attending the party tried to escape..."

TEAR GAS

However, some who were at the party and others living near the nightclub disputed the ministry's version of events.

"It appears police entered and threw tear gas canisters at them, and boxed them in," one resident told RPP radio.

Local media reported that the victims were in their 20s.

Women's Minister Rosario Sasieta said she was outraged.

"It should never have happened. We are in a pandemic, in a health emergency.

"I am calling for the maximum punishment possible for the nightclub owners," she told RPP. - AFP, REUTERS

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