Tragedy at German Techno Festival Nineteen Dead after Panic Breaks Out at Love Parade

The 2010 Love Parade in the German city of Duisburg has ended in tragedy after 19 people died and hundreds were injured in a stampede. Panic broke out in a tunnel after the festival site was closed due to overcrowding.

ddp

Nineteen people died Saturday in a stampede at the Love Parade techno music festival in the western German city of Duisburg. The tragedy occurred around 5 p.m. on Saturday afternoon when panic broke out in a tunnel near the entrance to the festival site. Shortly before, police had closed the site, a former freight rail station, due to overcrowding. The tunnel acted as a bottleneck and panic broke out as people found themselves unable to go forward or back.

On Sunday, police said the number of dead had grown to 19. Medical personnel had to revive many others. Police said that 342 people were injured in the tragedy.

An eyewitness told the German news channel N-tv that the tunnel had acted like a "trap." "There were people lying on the ground everywhere," he said. "It was how I imagine war would look." He said that the advancing crowd had run over people lying on the ground and described the situation as "real mass panic."

The police had tried to enter the tunnel to evacuate the victims, the eyewitness said. "But it was too full and the police weren't able to get the people out. There was nothing that could be done." Other eyewitnesses gave similar descriptions of events. Some eyewitnesses said that the police had been warned about a crowd buildup before the accident.

Police spokesman Jürgen Kiskemper described the situation as "very chaotic" and said the cause of the panic was still unclear. "We need to investigate what happened there."

The techno festival continued despite the accident, however. The organizers decided not to halt the festivities out of fear of triggering further panic, especially given that many of the revellers were intoxicated. "The city of Duisburg's crisis team has decided not to stop the event for reasons of safety," said Frank Kopatschek, a spokesman for the city administration. Over 1 million people are believed to have attended the festival. Many people apparently continued celebrating, unaware of what had happened.

Emergency workers reportedly had difficulty reaching the scene of the accident, with rescue workers trying to force their way through dancing crowds. Police closed off a nearby highway to allow rescue helicopters to land and evacuate victims. The site's exits were opened after the accident and partygoers arriving at the local train station were stopped and asked to return home.

The Love Parade festival was first held in 1989 in Berlin and rapidly became a symbol of the city's hedonistic techno scene. In 2007 the festival moved to the Ruhr area. It was held in Essen in 2007 and in Dortmund in 2008. The city of Bochum was supposed to host the event in 2009 but the party was called off because an appropriate venue could not be found and the city felt it could not cope with the huge number of partygoers.

dgs - with wire reports

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