Accusations of negligence against festival organisers, local councillors and the police flew this week, as German authorities launched a criminal investigation into how 19 revellers were crushed to death in a tunnel approaching the Duisberg Love Parade.
Duisberg police blamed organisers for permitting just one access point to the site through the 300 metre tunnel and claimed they decided against having several entry points to reduce policing costs despite being warned by safety experts hired by local cops and fireman that one entrance wasn’t enough.
Duisberg police union spokesman Wolfgang Orscheschek said that festival organizers had put them under ‘immense pressure’ to allow the event to happen despite their concerns.
“The dead were the victims of material interests,” he told a local newspaper.
340 revellers were also injured, some seriously, after cops attempted to turn back tens of thousands of revelers approaching the parade fearing over-crowding inside the already packed festival site. With the actual entrance to the festival closed and a gigantic crowd behind pressing in, thousands were trapped and crushed inside the tunnel. As panic set in revelers scrambled to escape, up nearby ladders and a tiny ramp.
"Everywhere you looked, there were people with blue faces,” one girl told German newspaper Die Welt.
"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,” she added.
"There were piles of injured on the ground, some being resuscitated, others dead and covered with sheets," another reveller caught in the crush, Isabel Schloesser, 18, told reporters.
"It was way too full in the afternoon, everybody wanted to get in," she added as she left the site. (BBC)
Love Parade founder Dr Motte, who stopped being involved in the event when it was no longer staged in Berlin, accused the promoters of being motivated by greed.
“It is the fault of the organisers,” he told the Berliner Kurier newspaper, “It is just about making money; the organisers did not show the slightest feeling of responsibility for the people.” (TheLocal.de)
Legendary German techno DJ Sven Vath said he was deeply ‘shocked and stunned’ in a statement issued on his website and called for a full investigation into the ‘gross negligence’ behind the event.
“The thought of the fear and panic that these young people went through when they’d gone out for dancing and fun is just too awful and unjust,” he added.
Speaking on Sunday, festival chief Rainer Schaller said there will be no more Parades declaring 'the Love Parade has always been a joyful and peaceful party, but in future would always be overshadowed by yesterday's events.’
'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,” he added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the causes of the disaster need to be ‘very intensively investigated’ and said Federal agencies will be providing full support to the local officials.
"Young people came to party. Instead, there was death and injury,” she added in a statement, “I am aghast and saddened by the sorrow and the pain," she said.
"It is terrible that such a catastrophe brought death, suffering and pain to a peaceful festival full of happy young people from many countries,” new German President Christian Wulff agreed.
Sinisterly, scores of Youtube clips of the chaos posted by individuals have also been deleted within hours, with the only ones remaining long term appearing to be clips of news reports posted by mainstream TV organizations.
(Youtube news reports)