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


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Part 4: How Big Was the Crowd?

There are new estimates every day. The spokesman for the Duisburg police, Ramon van der Maat, said there were 300,000 to 400,000 revelers at most over the whole of Saturday, at the festival and on the way there. The organizer of the Love Parade, Rainer Schaller, said there were only 187,000 visitors at the festival site.

The interior minister of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia said on Monday there had been 350,000 people in the town and 120,000 at the festival ground.

The figure of 1.4 million people in Duisburg given by Schaller and the mayor, Adolf Sauerland, on the day of the disaster was "mathematically impossible," said police spokesman van der Maat. It would have been impossible for so many people to get to the city in such a short timeframe with the transport options available, he said. And there wasn't enough space at the freight station to accommodate such a crowd, he added. The site is 230,000 square meters in size but half of that consists of buildings.

The police have a rule of thumb that up to four people can stand crammed together on one square meter. Aerial shots on Saturday showed that the festival ground was never completely full, so estimates of around 200,000 visitors seem plausible.

There have been wildly divergent estimates of visitor numbers at previous Love Parades too. In 2006 in Berlin, the organizers put the number of ravers at around 1.2 million. The estimate by police was 500,000.

In 2008, the city of Dortmund boasted that 1.6 million had flocked to its Love Parade -- a record. But that figure too was questioned. Dortmund newspapers put it at around half that number.


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