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Three dead in week-end stampede at Budapest club

January 17, 2011

Three young women died at a club in downtown Budapest late Saturday night after panic broke out. No other injuries were reported. Police detained five people in connection with the incident.


The three women died after the crowd stampeded at West Balkan, a club close to Nyugati railway station in the city center. Police dismissed earlier press reports that the women were stabbed and that there was a brawl in the club.

The National Rescue Service sent six paramedic units to the scene after receiving calls that several people there were unconscious, a spokesman for the service said. The first unit arrived five minutes later to find the three women near the entrance to the club, said Pal Gyorfi. The paramedics tried to revive the victims for more than half an hour.

The cause of death will be determined after a forensic examination, he added.

Young people who came out of the club told MTI's correspondent at the scene that the music had suddenly stopped and the lights were turned on, after which everybody started running for the exit, not even stopping at the coat check.

Witnesses allege people rushed for the exits after somebody yelled "knifing" but the National Rescue Service and the police found no evidence of a stabbing nor did interviews with witnesses suggest otherwise.

Interior minister Sándor Pintér said the venue had a licence only for operating a cafe for around a hundred people, yet nearly 3,000 people were allowed to enter Saturday's event and 4,000 tickets were printed.

He added that police are investigating on suspicion of negligence and five people have been taken into custody. Two of them organised the event, another two were in charge of renting out the venue and the fifth was the organiser of the programme series Noise Night Life.

Entry and exit routes were apparently not properly planned in the three-storey West Balkan club, and there were only ten security guards present who were unable to direct the movement of the crowd.




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