Blog Post

Pope Laments Deaths at Techno Dance Festival

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist Speaking after Sunday's Angelus at Castle Gandolfo on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sorrow for the tragic deaths of 19 people at the "Love Parade" music festival in Germany on July 24. The Catholic News Agency is reporting that the Pope expressed his "sorrow" for the tragedy, entrusting the deceased, injured and their relatives to the Lord. He asked for the "comfort and the closeness of the Holy Spirit" for all involved in the horrific event. The "Love Parade" techno dance festival took place in Duisburg, Germany this past weekend and drew an estimated 1.4 million young people from all over Europe. The event was originally started to promote peace shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall 21 years ago. However, this was the first time that the festival was held in an old train depot on the edge of the city of Duisburg, which many believed was too small a city (Pop. 500,000) for such a large event. However, city planners were proud to play host to such a major cultural event which promised substantial revenue for the city. Authorities believe the stampede occurred when partiers crowded into a narrow tunnel-like exit, the only entranceway into the event, after being told by police that the festival grounds were closed due to overcrowding. The rush quickly turned into a stampede that left 19 people crushed to death on the metal stairs or against the walls and injured more than 300. Kevin Krausgartner, a 21-year-old who found himself trapped in the tunnel, told German news media he had witnessed "gruesome scenes." "I've never seen anything like it," he said. "There were 25 people lying in a heap. I screamed; people could no longer get any air. I saw dead people, and one person was sitting there looking extremely pale. I wanted to give him some water, but the ambulance medic told me there was no point as he was already dead." Krausgartner also said he saw police "standing on the bridge doing nothing." German authorities are demanding an investigation into the tragedy. "This was a very, very dreadful and sad day," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "We must do everything we can to ensure that something like this never happens again." Angry survivors are blaming the organizers of the event. "The organization was very bad," Patrick Guenter, a 22-year-old baker, told the AFP. "Quickly there was nothing to drink apart from alcohol and although the festival was full, they kept letting people in." "It seems the organisers didn't plan the route. The road was very narrow," said Taggart Bowen-Gaddy, 20, an American from Philadelphia. "There was no planning, no one knew what was going on." Police said the dead included seven foreigners, from Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Bosnia and Spain. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®