Analysis of the Love Parade Tragedy The Facts Behind the Duisburg Disaster

AP

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Part 2: Why Was There Such Congestion?


The organizer of the Love Parade, Rainer Schaller, who also runs the main sponsor, the McFit chain of fitness studios, has levelled serious accusations at the police. Schaller, 41, said the disaster was triggered by a "fatal order" given by police to open the western end of the tunnel. Before that the organizers had closed 10 out of 16 gates leading to the entrance because there had been a risk the festival could become overcrowded, Schaller said.

The Cologne police force, which has taken over the investigation, said criticism of their Duisburg colleagues was premature. "At this point we're not yet in a position to say what the trigger was for the whole thing. One cannot seriously determine it yet," a spokeswoman for the Cologne police said. "We would prefer it if Herr Schaller didn't engage in speculation."

Officers involved in policing the event told SPIEGEL ONLINE they had the impression that marshals checking guests at the entrance were overwhelmed by the size of the crowd and that this led to massive congestion back in the tunnel and on the ramp leading up from it to the festival ground on a former freight train station.

"Everyone was waiting for orders but none came," one of the 1,080 marshals told Bild newspaper. "Suddenly there were bodies everywhere. The emergency exits at the top of the ramp were only opened by the police when it was too late," the marshal said, according to Bild.

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