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Number of dead, injured at German music festival rises

By the CNN Wire Staff
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19 dead at German music festival
  • German music festival officials say the festival has been disbanded
  • Nineteen people were killed, 340 injured in a stampede at the festival
  • The victims include four foreigners from Australia, China, Italy, and the Netherlands

(CNN) -- The organizer of a German music festival announced Sunday that the Love Parade has been disbanded after more than 19 people were killed in a stampede.

Rainer Schaller said the festival, which began in 1989, has been canceled "out of respect for the victims, their families and friends ... The Love Parade has always been a peaceful event and a joyous celebration, which will now forever be overshadowed by the tragic deaths yesterday."

The death toll from the stampede at the festival is at 19, police in Duisburg, Germany, said Sunday. Duisburg's Senior Mayor Adolf Sauerland said 340 festival goers were injured Saturday when chaos broke out at the "Love Parade 2010." Police have said as many as 400 were injured.

The deadly crush happened in an underpass between the main event site and the expansion area. Witnesses told CNN affiliate NTV that people pushed into the tunnel from both sides until it was dangerously overcrowded. The panic began as festival-goers began to lose consciousness as they were crushed against the walls and each other.

Detlef von Schmeling, police president of Duisburg, said 16 of the dead did not die in the tunnel, but at the entrance ramp.

Authorities have identified the victims as 11 women and eight men. Eleven of the victims are from Germany and the remaining eight hail from Australia, the Netherlands, China, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Spain.

The senior mayor said the city had put in place a "solid security plan" and must now begin an investigation into why the incident occurred.

"The Love Parade was supposed to be a peaceful and joyful festival for young people from the region and beyond," Sauerland said. "Now this event must unfortunately be considered to be one of the great tragedies in the contemporary history of the city. I am deeply shaken."

Carsten Lueb of NTV said some 1.4 million people showed up at the popular festival, which features dozens of DJs spinning techno music for hours. Organizers expected only 700,000 to 800,000 attendees, so they opened an additional event site to accommodate more people. The numbers are disputed by police who say the area can hold between 250,000 and 350,000 and at no time was filled to capacity.

After the panic, a line of emergency vehicles, including helicopters, could be seen parked on the highway leading to the festival site, carrying away people injured in the crush. The festival itself, however, went on. Police were afraid that ending the music altogether could cause further unrest among the massive crowd.

Witnesses also told NTV that police were warned at least an hour before the incident that the underpass was becoming dangerously crowded. NTV reported that there were 1,400 police officers on hand to monitor the event.

Detlef von Schmeling, Police President Duisburg, said more than 4,000 police officers provided security for the event. Police are investigating how it came to a back-up in the underpass. One additional entrance way had been opened before the accident to relieve some of the pressure.

The festival was supposed to take place from 2 p.m. to midnight (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET). By the evening, the entrance and adjacent roadway remained closed. Thousands inside the venue continued dancing, but many could be seen leaving the area.

CNN's Ben Brumfield contributed to this report.