German authorities were warned of festival danger

THE head of a police union warned German authorities 12 months ago that the Love Parade in Duisburg at which 19 people died was an accident waiting to happen.

Police union boss Rainer Wendt told Bild newspaper his organisation had warned a year ago that Duisburg was “too narrow, too small to manage the masses of people” who were likely to come to such an event.

A total of 1.4 million were drawn to the festival and 18 of the 19 dead have been positively identified.

The police chief in Duisburg, Detlef von Schmeling, said as well as Germans, the dead included an Australian, an Italian, a Chinese and a Dutch citizen. Around 340 people were also injured during the stampede.

Mr Von Schmeling said the dead and injured ranged in age from 20 to 40.

It was the worst accident of its kind since nine people were crushed to death at a rock festival in Roskilde, Denmark, in 2000.

A number of witnesses criticised the decision to have just one entrance through a tunnel to the Love Parade, and claimed they’d warned police about overcrowding.

The mayor of Duisburg told a press conference it was too early to blame anyone for the incident.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “appalled” by the tragedy and has demanded an intensive investigation.

In the meantime, organisers have taken the decision not to stage any further festivals. “The Love Parade has always been a joyful and peaceful party, but in future would always be overshadowed by these events,” Rainer Schaller said.

“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.”

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