At least 13 people died in a crush in Peru after trying to escape police who raided a nightclub violating coronavirus restrictions, police say.
The crush happened as revellers tried to leave the Thomas Restobar Club in Lima’s Los Olivos district.
The interior ministry says six people were injured, including three police officers. Some 23 people were detained.
Peru imposed a night-time curfew in March, and this month re-imposed a ban on large gatherings.
The Latin American country has recorded more than 576,000 cases of coronavirus cases and more than 27,000 fatalities.
Peru’s interior minister said around 120 people had attended the illegal birthday gathering on Saturday. After police raided the club, the partygoers “tried to escape through the single exit, trampling each other and getting trapped in the stairway”.
The ministry says police “did not use any type of weapon or tear gas” during the operation but this was disputed by at least one local resident who told RPP radio: “It appears that police entered and threw tear gas canisters at them, and boxed them in.”
Women’s Minister Rosario Sasieta condemned the organisers of the party. “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.
Peru imposed one of the earliest and strictest lockdowns in Latin America to stop the spread of coronavirus – but has still seen cases rise rapidly.