BERLIN — Crowds of people streaming into a techno music festival surged through an already jammed entry tunnel on Saturday, setting off a panic that killed 19 people and injured 342 at an event meant to celebrate love and peace.
Authorities also suggested that some of the people killed or injured might have attempted to flee the crowd by jumping over a barrier and falling several metres. Witnesses described a desperate scene, as people piled up on each other or scrambled over others who had fallen in the crush.
So why? How could this happen? That tunnel was the sole entrance to the grounds. The Love Parade is one that hosts 1.4 million people and the venue could only hold 500,000. There's yer problem!
This was my first thought. If an event is a repeat or regular one, you would believe adequate health and safety measures and procedures to be in place. With 1.4 million people reportedly through the gates and a claim of being the largest techno music festival in the world, the Love Parade should have had access points to the grounds to reflect this.
My second thought went to overcrowding (hence police refusing entry to over 300 people in the tunnel) and control of this. Why didn't they have this covered? An eye-witness account reports (translated by Google from German to English):
Although many security controls were in place that would monitor compliance with the "Love Rules", but the way to the controls was extremely narrow, began pushing the first and it lasted for only a few metres close to 90 minutes.
On the right side even more dramatic scenes. There was a small emergency stairs, each of which could escape from one person upwards. Here, too, now appeared more and more police officers... In those seeking help were people who had already lost consciousness. It was a bad experience of having to watch the rescue operation with, for now all we feared that we might be the next crushed.
Next to me I suddenly saw a policeman with a young man forced his way to the stairs. "Can't you go or should I pay them?" Actually, the man gave me an even better shape right impression, then I saw his hand he held up convulsively. I had not looked closely, but his fingertips were covered with blood. Maybe he was overthrown in the crowd and accidentally had a lot of shoes shredded his hand.
They also mention that last year's Love Parade closed due to overcrowding. Why, then, hasn't something been done about it? If it is known that the venue is maxed out at 500,000, why are 1.4 million people permitted to attend, even when they expected 800,000?
The founder of the Love Parade, Matthias Roeingh, known as Dr. Motte, blasted the planning for the event, saying "one single entrance through a tunnel lends itself to disaster. I am very sad."
Me too, Dr. Motte. And it sounds like current management isn't too keen to run again after this catastrophe.