Love Parade death toll climbs to 21 | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.07.2010
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Love Parade death toll climbs to 21

The death toll from the crush at last weekend's Love Parade festival climbed to 21 on Wednesday. Accusations over who is to blame are focusing on the organizers of the event.

Candles and flowers, arranged into patterns

Tributes to those dead have been placed by the tunnel

A 25-year-old woman died in hospital of her injuries early on Wednesday, bringing the death toll from the Love Parade tragedy to 21. The young woman was injured during the mass panic that broke out in a tunnel at the entrance to the festival. According to state prosecutors, the overall number of victims now stands at more than 500 injured and 21 dead.

Authorities are expected to release the findings of a first inquiry on Wednesday afternoon.

According to Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, the report will at least partly blame the organizers for what happened, accusing them of allegedly deploying far less safety stewards than initially promised and ignoring recommendations to install video surveillance cameras at the entrance to the tunnel.

Memorial service next Saturday

A memorial service for victims of the Love Parade tunnel disaster is to be held on Saturday, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff expected to attend.

The chancellor is interrupting her summer holiday to be present at the ceremony.

"Together with the relatives and the friends, as well as with the injured and all those involved we wish to mourn and try to find solace," Hannelore Kraft, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, said on Tuesday.

State premier Hannelore Kraft

State premier Hannelore Kraft visited the scene on Sunday

The service will take place in Duisburg's protestant Salvatorkirche church, with a large screen in an adjacent city square relaying the events inside. A condolence book has been set up for mourners to sign.

Kraft, who visited the site of the tragedy on Sunday, also announced that the results of investigations appeared to show that all of the victims had died as a result of crushed ribcages.

It had previously been thought that some might have died from injuries caused by falling from a wall at the exit from the single tunnel that led to the site.

Speaking after a cabinet session, Kraft said that her state government would push for cities to be given more support in organizing large events in the future. She also promised that the state government would oversee a counseling network for those affected.

Political consequences

Kraft said responsibility should be taken for the tragedy at a political level. The comment came after accusations that the Mayor of Duisburg Adolf Sauerland had ignored repeated warnings that the city was inappropriate for the staging of such a large festival.

A young woman sign a condolence book

A condolence book has been set up for mourners

The state premier stopped short of calling for Sauerland’s resignation. "That is his decision," she said, but went on to add, "In the end it will also be a matter of political responsibility."

Kraft defended the police, who it has been alleged caused the crush by opening access gates.

Love Parade boss Rainer Schaller on Monday blamed the police for opening more gates at the festival entrance, allowing thousands to press into an access tunnel for the techno music event.

Police in Cologne, who have taken over the investigation into the event, rejected Schaller's comments and said it was too early to speculate.

"We are not yet in a position to determine what triggered the sequence of events," a police spokeswoman said, adding, "It would be good if Mr Schaller did not lose himself in speculation."

Safety plan was 'solid'

Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland

Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland is under fire over event planning

Mayor Sauerland defended what he called a "solid" safety plan at a news conference on Sunday. When he visited the site of the tragedy to lay a wreath, he was pelted with rubbish by angry bystanders. He has also faced scathing criticism from several media outlets.

The mayor resisted calls for his immediate resignation on Monday and told public broadcaster WDR that he would address that issue when the time was right.

A report in the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger daily said that Sauerland gave the go-ahead for the event just hours before the start, despite concerns from police and fire officials.

Author: Richard Connor (dpa/AP/AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Rob Turner

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