Chicago-AP -- Witnesses describe a scene of mass chaos inside a Chicago nightclub early today, as people headed down narrow stairs for one open door.
They describe falling in the stairway and finding themselves trapped with people suffocating beneath them.
One club-goer described it this way: "Everybody smashed; people crying, couldn't breathe." He said two women near him died and someone under him passed out.
Fire officials say 21 people died and many others were injured after Mace or pepper spray was released inside.
Cory Thomas says he was outside waiting to pick up friends when he saw people inside beginning to back up against the glass front door. He says people were screaming and gagging and couldn't open the door because so many people were up against it.
Thomas says firefighters cut a chain on the side door when they arrived. The front door had been the only exit.
An Indiana woman says she was trampled on the stairway. She says people were stepping on her legs -- and when someone finally helped her up she was dizzy and couldn't breathe.