17 Dead in Nightclub Stampede After Prank Goes Wrong (VIDEO)

17 people, including eight minors, are dead after a graduation party at a nightclub turned deadly.

The tragedy unfolded after someone in the club set off a tear gas canister, which caused a stampede when partygoers could not breathe.

The owner of the club, in Caracas, Venezuela, is under arrest, as is the person responsible for setting off the tear gas.

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The Daily Mail reports.

Seventeen people were trampled to death when a tear gas canister set off during a brawl at a packed Venezuelan nightclub triggered a stampede.

Most of the victims, eight of whom were under 18, were celebrating their high school graduations at the private Social Club El Paraiso in Caracas.

Eleven were suffocated by the tear gas and six likely died from crush injuries as the 500-strong crowd fled in a mad, choking frenzy about 3am on Saturday.

The death toll could be as high as 22, according to local media.

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.

Images circulated on Twitter showed shoes scattered outside what appeared to be the club and people embracing one another, some wiping away tears. 

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.

‘The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela deplores this sad event and sends condolences to family members of the victims,’ he said.

‘The establishment has been ordered closed, and we are investigating in coordination with the public ministry, which is directing the criminal investigation.’

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the dead and injured.

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