Halloween festivities in Madrid turned deadly at a local events center in the early hours of Nov. 1.
Partygoers flocked to the Madrid Arena, located in the western region of the capital known as Casa de Campo, for Thriller Music Park, an electronic music party hosted by DJ Steve Aoki and featuring a costume contest in which groups of contestants could dress up as characters from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video for a chance to win a $3,800 prize.
But around 4 a.m. local time on Nov. 1, someone reportedly threw a firework into the crowd and panic ensued as attendees tried to leave the venue, Spanish newspaper El País reported. An “avalanche” of people rushed for the indoor stadium’s exits, creating chaos.
“There was a human blockage at the only exit because the others were sealed off,” an attendee who called herself Sandra told Spain’s Cadena Ser Radio. “There were people screaming, crushed, as security guards tried to pull out those who were trapped.”
After receiving a call at 4:05 a.m., 50 workers from emergency services arrived at the scene to help those who were being crushed, according to El País.
“I was trapped in a plug,” attendee Ernesto Moreno Hernandez said. “We couldn’t move forward because people were lying on the floor and couldn’t move backwards because people kept pushing. We were stuck there for half an hour trying to get out.”
(MORE: How to Prevent a Crowd Crush)
By the time authorities appeared, the stampede had trampled five women, leaving them “unconscious and in cardiorespiratory arrest,” El País reported. Although a waiter attempted to resuscitate one of the women on top of the bar, she and another female partygoer died in the arena, the Telegraph reported. One other woman passed away upon arrival at Hospital Clínico, located about 15 minutes away from the venue, after resuscitation efforts. The deceased women have been identified as Katia Esteban Casielles, an 18-year-old resident of nearby town Daganzo; Rocío Oña Pineda, 18; and Cristina Arce de la Fuente, 25. Two other women, María Teresa Alonso Vinateo and Belén Langdon Real, are in critical condition, El País reported.
The police are investigating whether the party’s organizers implemented sufficient security procedures and followed the stadium’s capacity rules. The venue can hold 10,600 people, but the company who arranged the event said it failed to sell out, El País reported.
This trampling isn’t the first of its kind. Human stampedes have occurred at other events as well. In July 2010, 21 people died and almost 400 were injured at Love Parade, a dance festival in Duisberg, Germany, leading to the affair’s permanent cancellation. Four months later at Cambodia’s annual Water Festival, more than 350 people died and at least 395 were injured during a human charge on a bridge in the country’s capital city, Phnom Penh.