German Love Parade Tragedy Investigated As Possible Manslaughter

Death of 19 in stampede at festival ranks among all-time worst concert disasters.

After 19 people were killed and 511 injured during a panic stampede at Germany's annual Love Parade music festival on Saturday, prosecutors are investigating whether negligent manslaughter was involved in the deaths.

The Associated Press reported that even as officials try to determine who was to blame for the panic near a tunnel that was the only entrance to the festival grounds in the western industrial city of Duisburg, they have not yet identified any of the potential suspects in the case.

"The investigations are concentrating on the allegation of negligent manslaughter and negligent bodily harm," said Rolf Haferkamp, a spokesman for Duisburg prosecutors. "They are not directed against any concrete person at present."

A union for German police has blamed organizers and officials in Duisburg for poor planning and overcrowding of the site. Witnesses have reportedly singled out police and private security staff for the tragedy, claiming that a panic broke out when officials closed one end of a tunnel that was the only entrance and exit after the festival ground became overcrowded.

Police have denied that claim and said they opened a second exit in an attempt to thin out the crowd before the stampede began. The long-running techno gathering has been permanently canceled in the wake of the tragedy.

The Love Parade incident ranks as one of the worst modern concert disasters and the most deadly since a 2003 fire at the Station nightclub in Rhode Island. One hundred Great White fans were killed while attempting to flee the over-capacity club after a pyrotechnics show went awry and started a fire.

Sadly, trampling and crushing incidents have a long, tragic history at live music events. At the Roskilde Festival in Denmark in 2000, nine Pearl Jam fans were crushed and three seriously injured when fans trying to get close to the stage caused a deadly surge. The accident nearly broke up the band and put PJ off playing festivals for a number of years out of fear for their fans' safety.

In one of the most infamous incidents in rock history, 11 fans were crushed to death at a Who concert on December 3, 1979, in Cincinnati, where a crowd surged toward the doors in an attempt to gain entrance to the general-admission show. That incident — which put an end to general-admission shows in Cincinnati for nearly three decades — is cited as a turning point in modern rock concert history, when concert security and crowd control became an overriding concern.