Tragedy befall Germany’s Love Parade Festival killing 18 in a stampede. Annual festival draws between 3/4 million to 1 million people from around the world. From AP via Yahoo News:
Crowds of people streaming into a techno music festival surged through an already jammed entry tunnel on Saturday, setting off a panic that killed 18 people and injured 80 at an event meant to celebrate love and peace.
Duisburg continued the festivities hoping not making the situation worse:
The circumstances of the stampede at the famed Love Parade festival in Duisburg in western Germany were still not clear even hours after the chaos, but it appeared that some or most of the 18 had been crushed to death.
Authorities also suggested that some of the people killed or injured might have attempted to flee the crowd by jumping over a barrier and falling several meters (yards). Witnesses described a desperate scene, as people piled up on each other or scrambled over others who had fallen in the crush.
German leader Angela Merkel express her sorrow at the loss of life at the Love Parade:
“The young people came to celebrate and instead there are dead and injured,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I am horrified by the suffering and the pain.”
Critics say town of Duisburg is at fault for the disaster for not being more ready:
Criticism quickly fell on city officials for allowing only one entrance to the grounds of a hugely popular event that drew hundreds of thousands of people to dance, watch floats and listen to DJs spin. German media said 1.4 million people attended but that figure could not be immediately confirmed.
The founder of the Love Parade, Matthias Roeingh, known by the name Dr. Motte, blasted the planning for the event, saying “one single entrance through a tunnel lends itself to disaster. I am very sad.”
Duisburg officials opted not end the festival fearing if would create more panic:
City officials chose not to evacuate the site, fearing it might spark more panic, and many people continued partying, unaware of the deaths.
First responders had a difficult time reaching victims and communications were down:
Emergency workers had trouble getting to the victims, hampered by the huge crowds. The area was a hectic scene, with bodies lying on the ground and people milling around or attending to them. Rescue workers carried away the injured as techno music thundered in the background.
Local media reported that the cell phone system in Duisburg broke down temporarily and frantic parents trying to reach their children instead drove to the scene to look for them.
However, most streets downtown were blocked by police and the highways leading to the city were jammed. Several media outlets also reported that rescue helicopters had problems taking away the heavily injured because there was not enough space for them to land.
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