It was meant to be a celebration of love, life and music. But this year’s Love Parade in Duisburg ended in disaster, with 19 people killed and hundreds of others injured. Two days on, many questions are left unanswered.
Overcrowding is seen as a major factor in the disaster
German prosecutors are continuing to look into allegations about lax safety measures at Saturday's Love Parade in Duisburg, where 19 people died and hundreds of others were injured in a crush near a tunnel leading to the festival grounds.
Survivors are demanding explanations for why security plans, described by Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland as “solid”, went wrong.
Only 250,000 visitors authorized
Survivors are asking why
Organizers said just hours before the event started that 1.4 million revelers were expected. But in its online edition, the German magazine Spiegel cites an internal document saying that the festival had authorization only for 250,000 visitors.
Another newspaper, the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, reports that the mayor had ignored written warnings in October 2009 saying the grounds were too narrow for the expected crowds.
The head of Germany's police union, Rainer Wendt, told the mass circulation newspaper Bild that he warned authorities a year ago of Duisburg's unsuitability as a venue for the Love Parade, as the city was too small and narrow.
How many were there?
But there are conflicting reports on how many people were actually in Duisburg to visit the festival.
The former cargo train station: too small as a venue?
Police have so far only confirmed that 105,000 visitors arrived by train. An official in charge of emergency response, Wolfgang Rabe, said the site, the former cargo train station, had a capacity of up to 300,000 people and that it was never full at any time during the event.
However, as the last three Love Parades, in Berlin, Essen and Dortmund, have all had more than a million visitors, some argue that there was no reason to expect fewer this year.
Who or whatever was to blame for the catastrophe, however, one thing seems certain: the Love Parade, which began in 1989 in Berlin, has taken place for the last time. Organizer Rainer Schaller told a news conference in Duisburg on Sunday that the event would be discontinued out of respect for the victims, their families and friends.
But what will go on for a long time to come are questions about how such a tragedy could occur – and how to prevent something like it from ever happening again.
Author: Timothy Jones (AFPE, Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold