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Love Parade in Germany claims 20 victims

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It was meant to be a festival celebrating love and peace. The Love Parade in Germany is one of the world’s largest dance events – an institution in itself, really – at which millions of people have partied in it’s 20-year-run. What started as a peace demonstration in Berlin in 1989, ended on Saturday with the death of 20 partygoers.

An abandoned freight station in the western German city of Duisburg – the small city’s trademark from industrial times – was the scene of the horrific incident. What was hailed as a secure location days before the event by organizers, turned into a death trap by what many are labeling as sheer irresponsibility.

The only way for people to access the festival grounds was through a 16-meter wide, 200-meter long tunnel. People coming to and leaving the festival had to pass through the tunnel. The accumulation of people grew and grew in the tunnel throughout day, until at 5pm the unbelievable tragedy happened. The tunnel was overcrowded; tens of thousands were stuck with no way out. Nothing was moving forward or backward. People began fighting for air, collapsing, and then panic broke out.

People who had come to party suddenly found themselves fighting for their lives.

According to reports in the German media, those stuck in the tunnel attempted to call emergency services. By the time they arrived on the scene, it was already too late.

20 people were killed, either squashed or trampled to death, or suffocated. 342 were injured, taken to hospitals by countless ambulances and helicopters on the scene.

Witnesses paint a disturbing picture of the hell in the tunnel.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” a 21-year-old told German newspaper Welt Online. “It was so crowded, that people were pushed down.”

“There was a guy sitting there, and he looked pale,” another witness tells Welt Online. “I wanted to hand him some water, but a medic said: ‘Leave it, he’s dead’.”

A distraught young woman told the paper her boyfriend dragged her over corpses with blue faces to get her out of there, before breaking down crying. “How am I ever going to forget the faces of those dead people?” she said.

And so continue the witness accounts, each more shocking than the other, leading many in Germany to ask: ‘Why?’

How could something like this have happened?

Many were quick to point fingers, saying the organizers should have allowed access from many different areas of the festival grounds, instead of forcing the estimated 1.4 million partygoers through one, single, small tunnel. It was irresponsible of organizers, many are saying.

The location of the Love Parade festival in Duisburg, Germany

Organizers took a verbal beating from angry journalists during a press conference yesterday, but refused to divulge information beyond what is already known. Prosecutors have launched an investigation, they say, and do not want to give out too much information or hamper the ongoing investigation.

This was the final Love Parade, organizer Rainer Schaller said.

“The Love Parade was always a peaceful and joyous party that will now forever be overshadowed,” Reutersquotes Schaller as saying. “Out of respect for the victims, families and friends, we will discontinue the event. The Love Parade is no more.”

258 DJs were set to play at the event that was celebrating it’s 20th anniversary (it fell out for one year). Some of the big names include Deichkind, Milk&Sugar and Coburn. Most DJs got the opportunity to play, as police chose not to end the event, for fear of triggering another mass panic.

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Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berlino_Love_Parade_1997.jpg,

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loveparade_logo.jpg, Source:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gelände_Loveparade_2010.jpg, Author: Christoph Müller-Girod

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