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Officials blame parade organiser for stampede

DDP/DPA/The Local · 28 Jul 2010, 16:41

Published: 28 Jul 2010 16:41 GMT+02:00

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With the release of an interim government assessment, minister Ralf Jäger said that fitness entrepreneur Rainer Schaller’s event-organising firm, Lopavent, had not adhered to prescribed security guidelines.

The company was responsible for hiring private security guards to manage crowds within the closed event grounds, while some 4,000 Duisburg police officers were to ensure that people travelling through the city on their way to the festival were safe, Jäger said.

Only after the situation spiralled “out of control” did the Love Parade organisers call on police for help, according to the assessment.

State police inspector Dieter Wehe said that the number of security personnel at the tunnel entrance to the main festival area, located at a disused rail yard, had been “insufficient.” Currently it is unknown whether the 4,000 personnel promised by Lopavent were actually on hand, he said.

Lopavent's plan provided for possible jams at the tunnel – the event’s only entrance – to be cleared by closing entry gates and sending event representatives to lead groups ahead.

This was “obviously not fulfilled,” Wehe said.

At 3:30 pm Love Parade organisers called on police for help, after which a chain of event representatives was to be formed and the order to close the entrance was given – but the order was not followed.

At 17:02 the first death on the entry ramp was reported.

Interior minister Jäger went on to criticise the city of Duisburg as the authorising body for the festival, to which an estimated 1.4 million participants showed up - far more than the 250,000 the city planned to accommodate.

The co-operation between the responsible agencies and the police had been inadequate, he said, with police receiving the event approval documents only on the day of the festival and at their request.

Overnight the number of dead climbed to 21 when a 25-year-old woman succumbed to her injuries. Thirteen women and eight men died, and more than 500 were injured, some of whom remain in a critical condition. Post-mortem results show the victims died from having their chests crushed.

Prior to the interior minister’s press conference in Düsseldorf, Lopavent organiser Schaller, however, denied accusations his company had neglected safety procedures, pointing out that city officials had approved the plan.

“Without this official stamp, we would never have let the Love Parade go ahead,” he told daily Bild.

Schaller also rejected allegations that Lopavent pressured anyone to approve the plan and added that none of his employees to his knowledge had pressured officials either. He said there were always concerns raised with such plans.

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While admitting he was not sleeping peacefully at night, knowing that “as organisers, we have a great responsibility,” Schaller said that, so far in their own investigation, his company had determined they had “fulfilled all the conditions 100 percent.”

The state prosecutor in Duisburg has announced that it is looking at possible charges of causing negligent death and negligent bodily harm.

Duisburg Mayor Adolf Sauerland, who was ultimately responsible for approving the Love Parade plans, faces serious questions of his own. Sauerland, who has been receiving death threats in the past few days, has denied being told of deep misgivings about the festival’s safety provisions from both the police and fire departments.

On Wednesday Sauerland, who is resisting calls for his resignation, said he will not attend a memorial service for the victims to be held on Saturday.

Sauerland did not want “to hurt the feelings of the families and cause provocation by his presence,” a spokesman told daily Rheinische Post. The comments were confirmed by city officials.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:13 July 28, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
organizers are not to blame here. The men in crowd control are.
17:49 July 28, 2010 by hOU
^ Bullshit.
19:57 July 28, 2010 by auniquecorn
To blame are the idoits that kept pushing when the lines stopped moving.
20:56 July 28, 2010 by Bushdiver
The organizer is definitely the one to blame here. What organizer and for that matter what state official would approve such a request for an area with only one entrance. Isn't that against the fire code here in Germany? I've worked around rock and roll for practically 30 years and find it hard to believe this organizer managed to get this site approved. I think all concerned should be hung.
21:05 July 28, 2010 by Canadianhaggis
Organizers only set up the the event and they hire crowd control people to manage the people going to the event , they are the people who are suppose manage how where and how many go through areas. Just the same as any game at an arena or a festival.
15:12 July 29, 2010 by hanskarl
Yes, Rainer Schaller and his associates organised the event.

However, the final oversight in the planning lies with the Duisburg city officials and police. These officials comprehensively know the city better than anyone else. As the overseers to the plan they had the final authority and power to effect changes or inhibit the plans to make it manageable.

There are too many missing links to place the blame solely on Schaller alone. Yes, he and his associates are part of the blame but not the whole.

And the Duisburg mayor is the other one to blame? Nonsense!! This seems to be a case of turning on the lights of the nation after a horrific tragedy and all the officials who participated run and hide in the shadows.
15:15 July 29, 2010 by moistvelvet
I've noticed that in all these photographs of Rainer Schaller he is never smiling, he should get out of the gym more often and have a happy meal!
00:05 July 30, 2010 by Coalbanks
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