Death toll in Caracas club stampede rises to 18

Relatives of the victims of the night club "Los Cotorros" wait outside the morgue in Caracas on June 16, 2018

Caracas (AFP) – Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday revised to 18 the death toll following a stampede at a crowded Caracas club over the weekend.

The deaths occurred after a brawl broke out during a middle school graduation party and someone detonated the tear gas, sending more than 500 people rushing for the exits, said Interior and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol.

“The tear gas canister did not cause the death of these 18 people,” he told journalists. “It was the stampeded of 500 people in the place who did not have sufficient evacuation routes.

On Saturday, Reverol had said eight minors were killed in the incident.

On Wednesday he said eight people had been detained in connection to the case, including an adolescent who “confessed” to having set off the tear gas.

There have been several incidents with tear gas over the past year in Venezuela, but with no victims.

The country is grappling with a severe economic crisis and pressure for President Nicolas Maduro to step down, amid a collapse in the price of oil, leading to chronic food and medicine shortages.