News and Commentary

Report: 13 Dead In Stampede After Peruvian Police Raid Nightclub For Violating Lockdown
The bodies of at least 13 people who suffocated in a crush during a raid late on August 22 are being loaded onto pick-up trucks on August 23, 2020 outside the nightclub where a party was being held despite a ban on such gatherings imposed to fight the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. - At least 13 people suffocated "when those attending the party tried to escape through the single exit, trampling each other and getting trapped in the stairway," the Peruvian Interior ministry said. This month the country re-imposed a curfew on Sundays in response to the rising number of infections.
LUKA GONZALES/AFP via Getty Images

Thirteen people died in a stampede Saturday evening in the capital city of Lima, Peru, after police raided a nightclub operating in defiance of local coronavirus lockdown measures.

According to The Associated Press, the Peruvian interior minister said that about 120 people were in attendance at the event where police were going to enforce the ban on nightclubs, which has been in effect since March.

After police showed up, the guests tried to force themselves through a door on the second floor, causing a pile-up that purportedly blocked the exit and caused some of the people trapped in the crowd to suffocate, according to government officials.

“People got excited and started to go down, and then they said that the people in front were suffocating,” a guest told a local radio station, according to AP.

The BBC reports that the victims include 11 men and 2 women, all in their 20s or 30s, and that around six other people were also injured in the incident, half of whom were officers with the police department dispatched to the scene.

At least one person has told a local radio station that police deployed tear gas during the raid. The Peruvian government has denied this claim, reports the news agency.

President Martín Vizcarra, whose government is staring down Peru’s worst “economic outlook” in a century, called the deaths a tragedy, but also placed blame at the hands of the nightclub for organizing the event.

“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 organising this,” said Vizcarra, according to the BBC.

“Please reflect, let’s not lose more lives due to negligence,” he added.

The health minister seemingly issued even stronger remarks about the gathering, which he called a “breeding ground for the transmission of this disease.” He also said the event had “a viral load because it was a closed environment,” reports the news agency.

According to the BBC, Peru was one of the first countries in Latin America to institute a lockdown order, but the results of the early action in the words of the president “haven’t been exactly what we expected.”

Some of the many challenges in mitigating the pandemic in the country, for example, have been the lack of refrigeration among the most impoverished residents, and the vast number of people working in the informal sector of the economy.

“In short, dad goes out to make a day’s wages and mom goes grocery shopping, so at some point someone gets infected — it’s inevitable,” virologist Felix Drexler told the German global newspaper Deutsche Welle of the situation in Peru.

“The middle class can buy food for two weeks or order it by delivery, but poorer people don’t have the means to pay someone to bring things home to them. They don’t have a fridge to stock up on supplies,” he said.

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