Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Security blamed for festival crush

An ice memorial near the entrance tunnel where the Love Parade crush happened
An ice memorial near the entrance tunnel where the Love Parade crush happened

German state authorities have accused the organiser of last weekend's Love Parade techno festival of major security breaches which may have led to the crush that killed 21 people and injured more than 500.

The organiser's security officials failed to properly control the entrance area where the victims were crushed, according to North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Ralf Jaeger and the state's chief police controller Dieter Wehe.

"Security did not fulfill its duty," Wehe said while presenting the key findings of a preliminary police investigation. Prosecutors have opened an investigation into negligent manslaughter, but have not yet identified suspects.

It was unclear if 150 staff who were supposed to be posted at the entrance area were there, Wehe said. He said: "But it is a fact that the existing security detail was insufficient."

When the organisers could not control the flow of tens of thousands of people pouring into the event area in Duisburg, they eventually turned to the police for help, he said.

Interior Minister Jaeger said the organiser, Rainer Schaller, failed to stop the flow of people into the tunnel when the situation was already tense at the entrance to the festival grounds. "The organiser did not fulfill the requirements of his security concept," Jaeger said.

Schaller has fought back against the accusations, saying his security concept received official city approval. "Without the official stamp of approval we never would have let the Love Parade take place," he was quoted as saying.

The preliminary report also left many unanswered questions regarding the responsibility of the Duisburg municipality, which was responsible for overseeing the event.

Wehe said the final authorisation providing all organisational details was only passed on to police on Saturday after officers repeatedly requested it. He said the authorisation allowed a maximum of 250,000 people in the area, even though organisers expected many more, and allowed shorter and narrower emergency exits and escape routes than required by German law.

The death toll has risen to 21 after a 25-year-old German woman died from her injuries, Duisburg prosecutors' spokesman Rolf Haferkamp said. More than 500 people also were injured in the crush at a jammed tunnel that was the only entrance to the festival grounds.

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