Seventeen crushed to death in Love Parade stampede

A STAMPEDE inside a tunnel crowded with techno music fans has left 17 people dead and around 80 injured at the Love Parade festival in western Germany.

Emergency services personal carry an injured person out of the tunnel where a stampede crushed at least 15 people to death. Photograph: Getty Images

Other revellers initially kept partying at the event in Duisburg, near Dusseldorf, unaware of the panic that started when police tried to prevent thousands more from entering the already jammed parade grounds.

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Emergency workers had trouble getting to the victims in the wide tunnel that led to the grounds. Bodies lay on the ground in the surrounding area as rescue workers rushed to help. Many of the injured were loaded into Red Cross vans and driven away.

Police commissioner Juergen Kieskemper described the scene as "very chaotic". Just before the stampede police had closed off the area where the parade was being held because it was already overcrowded, he said. They told revellers over loudspeakers to turn around and walk back in the other direction.

Witness Udo Sandhoefer said that even though nobody else was being let in, people still streamed into the tunnel, causing "a real mass panic".

He said: "At some point the column (of people) got stuck, probably because everything was closed up front, and we saw that the first people were already lying on the ground.

"Others climbed up the walls and tried somehow to get into the grounds from the side, and the people in the crowd that moved up simply ran over those who were lying on the ground."

Germany's new president Christian Wulff expressed his dismay at the deaths.

"Such a catastrophe that brings death, suffering and pain during a peaceful festival of happy young people is terrible," he said.

The Love Parade was once an institution in Berlin, but has been held in the industrial Ruhr region of western Germany since 2007.

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The original Berlin Love Parade grew from a 1989 peace demonstration into a huge outdoor celebration of club culture that drew about 1.5 million people at its peak in 1999.

But it suffered from financial problems and tensions with city officials in later years, and eventually moved.

Police initially reported 10 deaths, before raising the toll to 15, and then 17.