19 dead and up to 400 injured, many seriously.These are the latest gruesome numbers from yesterday’s Duisburg Love Parade, crowd-control disaster. It’s a classic case of what can go wrong when warnings are ignored or played down. City officials were warned that the location was seriously inadequate, but nobody wanted to be a party-pooper.
Germany’s techno-music Love Parade first started in 1989. Most have been held in Berlin, until the city got tired of the chaos and filth they left behind, and the event had lost money anyway.
Yet, everybody hates to see a good party end, and so other places were sought to host the million-plus visitor event. This year’s choice proved to be a disaster.
The catastrophe occurred at a tunnel under a street that served as the main entrance to the event. The following video vividly shows the catastrophe in motion. Especially interesting is the 0:31 mark of the clip. there you see the fully packed ramp leading down to the tunnel.
Just the shear physics of the situation alone are staggering.
If you estimate 100,000 people on that sloped ramp, each with an average weight of 70 kg, you have a total weight of 7000 tons trying to move forward. If the ramp has a slope of 3°, then sine 3° times 7000 tones yields a gravity force vector of 366 tons pressing down against the wall. Not a good place to be. Granted that’s just a real rough calculation, but it gives you an idea.
A sure sign that the old rail yard location, where the event took place, was not going to work was its relatively small size. It had an area of 2.2 million square feet, meaning that the place was going to be overly packed with just half a million people. Organisers expected 1 million, 1.4 million showed up. 1.5 sq ft per person. Experts say the area was suitable for a maximum of only 300,000.
Throw in youth, alcohol and drugs and you have all the ingredients for a crowd control disaster.
The police had warned city officials that the risks were too high and had advised against approving the event. But reports say no top city official wanted to be the party-pooper. The Love Parade got the green light.
Now, after the catastrophe, with the nation and continent in shock, officials are scrambling and the finger-pointing has begun. According to German newspaper Bild:
Duisburg mayor Adolf Sauerland defended the safety concept of the Love Parade against criticism.
In his view the reasons for the tragedy were not due to a poor safety concept, but rather very likely had more to do with individual weak points.
Tell that to the prosecuting attorneys Herr Burgermeister.
The State’s Attorney has announced that an investigation for negligent homicide will be conducted, and all city and official documents relating to permitting and organisation of the event have been confiscated by police.
The Love Parade organisation has announced today that there will not be any more Love Parades in the future.