ANGRY survivors demanded answers from organisers after 19 people were killed in a stampede at Germany’s Love Parade and prosecutors launched an inquiry into how the tragedy unfolded.
At a heated press conference in the western German city of Duisburg, officials said 18 of the dead had been identified, including six foreigners, from Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, China and two from Spain.
Deputy police chief Detlef von Schmeling said the victims, aged between 20 and 40, died as they scrambled to escape from a crush in a narrow, overcrowded tunnel that served as the only entrance to the festival grounds.
“Fourteen people died on the metal steps leading away from the tunnel, two on a wall outside the tunnel,” he said.
Officials said 340 people were injured in the melee as fresh accounts emerged of the “unimaginable” scenes that unfolded as thousands who piled into the tunnel became trapped in a bottleneck.
“I saw dead people in the tunnel, others alive but unconscious on the ground.” said Anneke Kuypers, an 18-year-old from New Zealand.
Survivors outside described a horrific scene as television pictures showed the unconscious and the dead being passed over the heads of those frantically trying to escape.
But many revellers remained unaware and kept on dancing after the incident on Saturday as authorities kept a lid on the news to avoid further panic, a decision which angered some survivors.
“What’s crazy is that the party carried on. That’s just not right. People kept on dancing even though they might have had friends who had died,” said a 31-year-old Lubbert from Hanover.
“At the end, the organisers even said ‘thank you for a great day’.”
Shock turned quickly to anger as partygoers criticised the fact there was only one entrance to the festival.
“The organisation was very bad. Quickly there was nothing to drink apart from alcohol and although the festival was full, they kept letting people in,” Patrick Guenter, a 22-year-old baker, said.
Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland said the investigation had been passed to prosecutors but defended what he said was a “solid security plan” worked out in advance.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was horrified by the catastrophe.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved