As many as 80 injured after stampede breaks out during techno music festival

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    Image: Loveparade 2010

    Hermann J. Knippertz / AP

    Collapsed people get first aid after a panic on this year’s techno-music festival Love Parade 2010 in Duisburg, Germany, on Saturday.

    BERLIN — A stampede killed at least 17 people after mass panic broke out in a tunnel at a Love Parade techno music festival in Germany on Saturday.

    Overcrowding at the entrance tunnel to a former freight rail station where the event was being held sparked the stampede and then a crush among the mainly young festival-goers.

    The festival, which drew about 1.4 million people, was not immediately cancelled because authorities feared that could spark a second panic and more chaos at the crowded venue, the German television station ZDF reported.

    About 80 people were injured during the stampede, ZDF said.

    "There were piles of injured on the ground, some being resuscitated, others dead and covered with sheets," 18-year-old Love Parade participant Isabel Schloesser told Reuters.

    "It was way too full in the afternoon, everybody wanted to get in," she said after leaving the rubble-strewn site where echoes of a throbbing bass beat could still be heard more than three hours after the crush.

    Rescue work was hampered by the huge crowds attending one of Europe’s biggest electronic music events in fine weather, officials said. People had come from all around Europe to the Love Parade with most in the 18-25 age bracket.

    Police in the industrial Ruhr city of Duisburg in western Germany had earlier tried to close the tunnel entrance.

    "It’s a horror situation especially because rescuers cannot get through to those injured," ZDF TV reporter Thomas Muenten said earlier, adding: "The people literally trampled each other on the way into this tunnel."

    "To prevent further chaos the event wasn’t cancelled. The people are being asked to leave the area quietly," he added.

    ‘There was no escape’
    "There was no escape," one Love Parade participant called Marius told the Bild.de website. "People were pressed into the wall. I was afraid I’d die."

    One woman raver told Bild: "I was lucky. I found a hole to escape through but two women were killed right next to me."

    German Chancellor Angel Merkel sent a message of condolence to the relatives of the victims, and President Christian Wulff expressed sympathy over the tragic accident.

    "It is terrible that such a catastrophe brought death, suffering, and pain to a peaceful festival full of happy young people from many countries," he said in a statement.

    At first the music blared out and people danced on, unaware of the unfolding tragedy nearby.

    Police said the death toll had risen to 17, with 80 more injured.

    Police tried to resuscitate people with CPR and the kiss of life inside the tunnel.

    Ambulances rushed to pick up victims and police set up an emergency first aid station near the entrance, where live images from WDR television showed thousands of revellers streaming out of the festival and towards the city’s main train station.

    Images from the venue showed the music still playing as rescue helicopters buzzed overhead, and WDR reported mobile phone networks had failed because they were overloaded.

    "The emergency workers had problems getting to the area due to the massive crowds," said another fire department spokesman from Duisburg, declining to be named.

    The annual event, now with a backdrop of electronic dance music such as House, Trance and Techno, flamboyant outfits and energetic dance moves, was first held in Berlin in 1989 as an event to promote peace through music.

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