- Title: GERMANY: Love parade victims still traumatised one year on
- Date: 23rd July 2011
- Summary: DUISBURG, GERMANY (JULY 18, 2011) (REUTERS) TUNNEL WHERE STAMPEDE TOOK PLACE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE AT SITE OF STAMPEDE PLAQUE READING (IN GERMAN) "DUISBURG REMEMBERS THE VICTIMS OF THE LOVE PARADE" WOMAN LIGHTING CANDLE DUEREN, GERMANY (JULY 19, 2011) (REUTERS) LOVE PARADE PARTICIPANT WOLFGANG LOCKE WALKING INTO ROOM CLOSE OF LOCKE
- Embargoed: 7th August 2011 13:00
- Location: Germany, Germany
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Disasters,Entertainment
- Reuters ID: LVA7RY6W5Q6UJYN4VVRXRVDCKADQ
- Story Text: Almost a year after the deadly stampede at the Love Parade music festival in the western German town of Duisburg, those who witnessed the tragedy are still coming to terms with what they experienced that day.
Nearly a year since the deadly stampede at the German Love Parade music festival in which 21 people were killed, those who were there that day say they are still traumatised by what they saw.
Twenty-one people, aged 20 to 40, were killed and more than 500 injured on July 24 2010 when hordes of young people pushed through a tunnel into the techno festival area at a former freight rail yard in Duisburg, a poor western German city of 500,000.
Eight foreigners -- from Australia, Bosnia, China, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain -- were among those killed.
Wolfgang Locke was one of those enjoying the festival before things took a turn for the worse. His experiences that day have left him unable to work and psychologically scarred.
"Physically a lot has changed for me. I can't sleep at night, I have nightmares. Of course now as the anniversary approaches it is even worse. I've become a completely different person. I'm not the person I used to be," he told Reuters TV.
He says the pictures he has in his mind are the worst reminder of what happened on that sunny July day.
"Pictures - the people who were trying to save themselves on the ramp because I could see this. What was however much much worse, was the background noise, the screaming. That is the worst," he said.
Police have said local officials ignored warnings that Duisburg would be too small to host one million people at the Love Parade, while the organisers blamed police for letting too many into the railyard.
Immediately after the accident it was the mayor of Duisburg, Adolf Sauerland and the boss of the Love Parade, Rainer Schaller at whom the fingers of guilt were pointed.
Sauerland, a leader in Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, has been assailed for ignoring warnings from city planning agencies, police and fire officials.
Now the state prosecutor in Duisburg, Rolf Haferkamp, says investigators are looking at possible charges of negligent homicide against 16 people, eleven from the town authorities, four from the organisers of the festival and one member of the police. More than 3,000 witnesses have been questioned to find out why an event set up for 250,000 people ended up with between 500,000 and 1 million.
He says it is a time-consuming process.
"The end of the investigation is still completely open. The analysis of the data from the town of Duisburg is going to take us months alone," said Haferkamp.
But it is not just the victims and their friends who are unable to forget their experiences of that day. Many of the hundreds of rescue and medical teams said they were not expecting such a tragedy when they first got the call one year ago.
Head of the medical response team of the Duisburg Fire Brigade, Frank Marx describes his memories from inside the tunnel.
"The word mass panic was not used at first but the operation controllers informed me that several people had been injured in the tunnel and so I went to the tunnel from the motorway. In the middle of the tunnel I climbed down some stairs and saw six young people being resuscitated, then I kept on running into the tunnel and saw in many places people lying on the ground who were being resuscitated, or who were no longer breathing or who were sitting on the ground and crying," he said.
A memorial service is to be held on Sunday (July 24) to mark the day. But even now, one year on, friends and relatives of the victims still congregate outside the tunnel where the stampede happened to remember their loved ones, leaving photos, crosses and candles.
The Love Parade originated in Berlin, with a population of 3.4 million, and was held in a giant park in Germany's largest city until 2006.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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