Published Jul 26, 2010Tragedy struck at this year's Love Parade electronic music festival in Germany, as 19 people were killed and as many as 511 were injured when a stampede broke out in a narrow tunnel leading to the parade grounds.
The event was held in Duisburg, in an old freight railway station that could apparently hold about 300,000 people. Some German media have estimated that 1.4 million people showed up to the event, reports the Associated Press. On Saturday (July 24), a stampede that left 19 dead broke out; why the stampede happened in the first place is still being debated.
Also according to Associated Press, German prosecutors are investigating whether negligent manslaughter was involved in the deaths.
Police have put the blame on event organizers and local officials in the industrial city for ignoring the early signs that the event would not be compatible with the venue. Some witnesses say the police and private security personnel are to blame, as they apparently closed one end of the tunnel once too many people were in the venue. The tunnel was the only way out of the event grounds.
Police deny this, and add that they created a second exit before the deaths occurred, reports Associated Press.
Safety experts had apparently warned event organizers before the festival occurred that having just one entrance into the event grounds was a risk, reports the Guardian, who add that, according to medical staff on the scene, many people died from asphyxiation or back injuries.
Due to the size and volume of the event, many people attending didn't even notice the stampede; police didn't shut the event down at first, fearing that would cause a second stampede; event organizers shut the Love Parade down later in the evening.
Police are pursuing an investigation into how the mass panic happened, according to Billboard. On Sunday (July 25), investigators seized event-related documents from organizers as the investigation began.
Love Parade was first held in Berlin in 1989; the festival was eventually moved to Duisburg after disagreements with the city over security and logistics. Love Parade organizer Rainer Schaller has said that the event is now permanently cancelled out of respect for the victims.
"The Love Parade was always a peaceful and joyous party that will now forever be overshadowed by yesterday's tragic events," Billboard quotes him as saying. "Out of respect for the victims, families and friends, we will discontinue the event. The Love Parade is no more."