Thirteen die in stampede after police raid nightclub in Peru amid COVID-19 ban
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Aug 24, 2020, 12:41 pm
At least 13 people were killed or asphyxiated after partygoers in a nightclub in Peru's capital, Lima, tried to flee when the police raided for violating restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic. As many as six persons sustained injuries, including three police officers, when approximately 120 people tried to make an escape from the Thomas Restobar club on Saturday night. The police had arrived to stop the party being hosted on the club's second floor after neighbors alerted the police about the event that took place in the Los Olivos district of the Peruvian capital.
In a statement, Orlando Velasco of the National Police told local radio station RPP, "In these circumstances when people begin to fight to get out, it's tumultuous, everyone goes against each other." According to the Interior Ministry, the partygoers tried to squeeze their way out of the club's entrance door when the police arrived and as a result got trapped between the door and a staircase, which led to the street. Among the 13 casualties were 11 men and two women between the ages of 20 and 30. As many as 23 partygoers were held back, the ministry added.
The Interior Ministry also stated that the club's owners, a married couple, were also detained on Sunday. Peru’s women’s minister, Rosario Sasieta, called for harsh penalties against the club’s owners. She told reporters on Sunday morning during a visit to the site, "I ask for the maximum sanction for the owners of this place, which has really been irresponsible, and we are talking about a malicious homicide for profit,". Sasieta added, "Knowing that there is a health emergency, knowing that not even at home you can meet with relatives who do not live there, you have the irresponsibility of opening a place for 120 people to enter?".
Nightclubs and bars across Peru were ordered to be shut down in March, with the government subsequently banning extended family gatherings in the country on August 12 in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Peru is the second worst-affected nation due to the coronavirus pandemic in the South American continent with 5,94,326 cases and 27,663 deaths. The Latin American nation is also standing sixth in the world for the highest COVID-19 infection rate, with the government also imposing a Sunday curfew.