17 dead in Caracas club stampede sparked by tear gas, says official

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At least 17 people died at a club in Caracus early on Saturday morning when a person activated a tear gas grenade inside setting off a stampede, Venezuela's interior minister Nestor Reverol said.

According to Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol, the detonation caused a stampede with people rushing for the exits of the Los Cotorros club in the middle-class neighbourhood of El Paraiso.

Reverol said that Venezuela's government "deplores this unfortunate event" and offered "words of condolences to the families of the victims".

Two teenagers, believed to be responsible for setting it off, have been detained along with six other people.

'The establishment has been ordered closed, and we are investigating in coordination with the public ministry, which is directing the criminal investigation'. Five were injured in the incident including one with serious injuries.

The majority of those who died were between 16 and 20 years old.

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One of those who lost their child was Nilson Guerra who told reporters: "All I know is my son is dead".

Homicide rates in Venezuela have shot up during the country's spiral into economic crisis and political meltdown and many Caracas residents refuse to go out at night due to security fears.

There were nearly 27,000 violent deaths previous year, making Venezuela proportionally the world's second most murderous nation after El Salvador, according to a local crime monitoring group.

At least 11 victims died of asphyxiation, according to an initial report by the National Police obtained by CNN.

"That's not a big space and that should not be authorized", he said.

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