17 people killed in nightclub brawl

At least 17 people, including eight minors, have been killed after the detonation of a tear gas device inside a crowded club in Venezuela's capital, Caracas, according to officials.

Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said seven people were arrested based on witnesses statements, including the club owner and man accused of setting off the gas.

Another five were injured and dozens of partygoers fell down the stairs as the main door to the club, also known as Los Cotorros, was closed.

More than 500 people were at a party at the Los Cotorros club in the middle-class El Paraiso neighbourhood when the device went off at about 3am on Saturday during a fight between several people, causing a stampede towards the exits, Reverol said on state television. Eight people were detained, including two teens believed responsible for setting off the tear gas canister.

Family members who gathered outside the hospital where many victims were taken wept and embraced one another as they tried to find out what had happened.

Officials are investigating and have ordered the club shut down.

More news: 2,000 Families Separated After Being Caught Crossing Border Illegally

"The kids couldn't leave", Perdomo said.

Authorities said non-governmental groups inflate figures to create paranoia and tarnish President Nicolás Maduro's socialist government.

However, he said the owner permitted weapons into the club that threatened the "integrity" of the establishment. No information on the owner's name, exact charges or current whereabouts was immediately provided. The Venezuelan Observatory of Violence estimates about 26,600 people were killed in 2017.

Many were celebrating the end of the school year. Some parents had been hesitant to let their children attend.

Yoanna Aponte said her 16-year-old cousin died after suffering cranial trauma when she tried to escape and was crushed by the stampede.

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