25 Jul 2010

Organisers blamed for deaths at German festival

8:23 pm on 25 July 2010

Survivors of a stampede at a free dance music festival in Germany in which 19 people were killed have blamed organisers for the deaths, while a city official has accused gatecrashers of causing the stampede.

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

The mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland, where the festival took place, said a security plan had been worked out beforehand.

A city spokesperson, Frank Kopatschek, says the festival was well organised and it was gatecrashers who were to blame.

He says there was no panic until some people climbed on top of security fences and fell onto others.

Officials have launched an investigation into the disaster.

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.

Emergency workers reportedly had difficulty reaching those who had been crushed.

Organisers kept the festival going while they worked out how to get the crowd out safely with the main entrance out of commission.

Police said the festival drew about 1.4 million people.