UPDATE: Love Parade Death Toll Rises to 21
The death toll from Germany's Love Parade festival rose to 21 on Wednesday after a 25-year-old German woman died overnight in a hospital, according to a spokesperson for Duisburg prosecutors. The 20th victim was a a 21-year-old who died late Monday from her injuries.
Authorities confirmed that the number of people injured at Love Parade, the free dance music festival which was held in the Northern German city of Duisburg July 24, has also risen to over 500. It is understood that none of the injuries is life-threatening.
Following the disaster, which appears to have been sparked by mass over-crowding, Love Parade organizer Rainer Schaller has confirmed that the long-running event will not run again, out of respect to the victims.
"My thoughts in these difficult times go out to those that who have experienced this tragic event and those who are in grief," Schaller said in a televised press conference following the event.
"Love Parade has always been a cheerful and peaceful event that, however, will be overshadowed in the future by events of [July 24]," he went on to say before confirming that the event will now be discontinued. The festival has been held annually at various locations throughout Germany since 1989.
A criminal investigation has been launched into the cause of Saturday's tragedy. German media has reported that prosecutors have seized documents from the event organizers, Berlin-based Lopavent GmbH, of which Schaller -- who owns the German Mcfit health and fitness chain -- is owner and managing director. Schaller has stated that he will co-operate with any investigation.
Although official attendance figures have yet to be released, it is estimated that as many as 1.4 million people attended the free event, which was held in a disused 230,000 square-meter freight railway station.
According to police and witness reports, panic initially broke out in an overcrowded tunnel which was the main entrance and exit to and from the festival, resulting in audience members collapsing and being trampled by fans pushing forward.
Questions are now being asked about who is to blame for the tragic events, with Rainer Wendt, chairman of the German police officers' union, condemning the decision to hold the event in the city of Duisburg, in Germany's industrialized Ruhr region.
"The organizers are responsible for the tragedy because the city is too small and cramped for events like this," Wendt told reporters at a press conference in Berlin.
A separate press conference was also hastily arranged in Duisburg, the day after Love Parade, which was attended by the city's major, Adolf Sauerland; the city's security chief, Wolfgang Rabe; event organizer Schaller and Duisburg chief of police, Detlef von Schmeling, who disputed the view that the disaster was caused by a mass crowd surging forward. According to von Schmeling, "there wasn't a mass panic - it was the actions of individual people."
Love Parade founder Matthias Roeingh, better known as DJ Dr. Motte -- who was not involved in the 2010 edition -- has, meanwhile, issued a statement on his blog claiming: "The organizers didn't show a grain of responsibility."
The Duisburg tragedy was "not an act of God but the result of a horrible combination of completely overstretched authorities and incompetent organizers," according to Marek Lieberberg, a Frankfurt-based promoter who handles both the "Rock Am Ring" and "Rock Im Park" annual festivals.
"For an event of that size at least 4,000 to 5,000 security people are needed. My estimation is that there would only have been 1,000," he continues.
Representatives of Lopavent GmbH and Schaller could not be reached by Billboard.biz for comment.