Officials blamed in German festival deaths

Survivors of a stampede at a
free dance music festival in Germany in which 19 people were killed have blamed
organisers for the deaths.

Witnesses criticised the
decision to have just one entrance through a tunnel to the Love Parade, and
said they had warned police about overcrowding.

However, the mayor of
Duisburg told a press conference that it was too early to blame anyone for the
incident.

The organiser of the
festival said that there would be no more Love Parades.

“The Love Parade has always
been a joyful and peaceful party, but in future would always be overshadowed by
yesterday’s events,” Rainer Schaller said.

“Out of respect for the
victims, their families and friends, we are going to discontinue the event in
the future, and that means the end of the Love Parade.”

Officials have launched an
investigation into the disaster.

Mayor
Adolf Sauerland said that until the investigation was complete, any
apportioning of guilt would be “out of place, our of order”.

“That
would not serve the victims, nor would it serve the families,” he said.

He
said 340 people had been injured.

Sixteen
of the dead had been identified, he added, and four of the victims were
foreigners: one from the Netherlands, one from Australia, one from Italy and
one China. They ranged in age from just over 20 to 40.

Mr.
Sauerland said earlier that a security plan for the festival had been worked
out beforehand.

Most
of the victims were trampled to death at an entrance tunnel connecting an old
railway station to the parade ground. Police closed the exit to the tunnel and
those trying to get in were told via loudhailer to turn around, but panic broke
out.

Eyewitnesses
claim they tried to warn police before the stampede occurred that the tunnel
was overcrowded, but said the authorities ignored their warnings.

“You
cannot jail one million people behind fences, you need to let them walk around
free, then such things do not happen,” one witness told journalists.

One
local resident said: “Three days ago I thought the organiser was stupid because
he only made one entrance point to the Love Parade. You can’t lock so many
people away behind a fence. That doesn’t work.”

Officials
said emergency workers had difficulties reaching the injured because of the
massive crowds.

Police
said the festival drew about 1.4 million people.

The
exact circumstances of the stampede are still not clear.

It
appears most of the victims were crushed to death.

A
young woman told Die Welt: “Everywhere you looked, there were people with blue
faces.

“My boyfriend
pulled me out over the bodies, otherwise we would both have died in there. How
can I ever forget those faces? The faces of the dead.”

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