15 killed in Germany love parade stampede
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- Published 25.07.10
|Injured people get first aid after the stampede at the Love Parade in Duisburg, Germany. (AP)|
Berlin, July 24: Fifteen people have been killed in Germany during the country’s annual “Love Parade”, held this year in the former industrial Ruhr city of Duisburg.
Officials and eyewitnesses spoke of a mass stampede in which people were trampled under foot.
At least 40 others were injured, some seriously, and many police and ambulance personnel were seen giving the kiss of life to victims.
What should have been a celebration of techno-music and dance turned into horror near the field where hundreds of thousands gathered during the afternoon. Many continued to party even as the air was filled the noise of police sirens, unaware of the tragedy taking place behind them.
Rescue squads had to fight their way through an ocean of people, many of whom were inebriated although friendly. “They simply had no idea of the scale of the tragedy,” said a police spokesman.
A state of emergency was declared in the city by the local authority as the extent of the horror unfolded.
Officials estimated that between 500,000 and a million people descended on Duisburg for the day-long techno music festival, that was first held in Berlin in 1989 but moved to the Ruhr area, Germany’s former industrial heartland, in 2007 following disagreements with the capital’s authorities over logistics and security.
Police said the victims were trampled to death in an underpass connecting a railway goods yard where the partygoers assembled to the parade ground itself.
“It was hell,” said Karl Lowenstein, 21, from Bielefeld. “The tunnel was dark, it was full. Something happened — whether someone tripped or someone fell I don’t know. But there was a stampede to get to the other end and those who fell… well, many of them never got up again.”
Another witness who gave his first name as Fabio said he tried to warn police before the stampede occurred that a catastrophe was building.
“A friend and I got out as hundreds more poured in,” he said. “We tried to tell them to close it down, but they didn’t listen. This was about 45 minutes before people were killed.”
Police and ambulances raced down the neighbouring A59 motorway to try to reach the dead and dying but complained that thousands of youngsters meandering over the carriageways hindered the rescue effort. Helicopters also landed on the autobahn to ferry the seriously injured to hospital.
Crowds of people going one way through the underpass had “totally overfilled it”, according to police. But there were reports that others had also tried to force their way in the opposite direction. “They met in the middle and there was a tragedy,” reported Radio Bayern.
More than 1,200 police officers were on duty but officials said they had been powerless to prevent the accident. “It is a catastrophe that we are struggling to cope with,“ a police spokesman shortly after the disaster at 5.00pm today.
Kevin Krausgartner, 21, from the nearby city of Wuppertal, was in the tunnel when the stampede occurred. “I have never seen anything like it,” he said. “I saw 25 people piled on top of one another, a huge heap. I cried.
“The people couldn’t get any air. I saw the dead there. One person was completely pale and I wanted to give him some water but a medic said that wouldn’t help him — he was already gone.”