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German press condemns festival chaos

By Thair Shaikh, CNN
People pay their respects on Monday in front of a make-shift memorial to the festival goers who died in a stampede on Saturday.
People pay their respects on Monday in front of a make-shift memorial to the festival goers who died in a stampede on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spiegel Online claims internal document shows site was only approved for 250,000 revelers
  • Die Tageszeitung lead with the headline: "The young people were abused."
  • Conservative Die Welt said "All the injured are out of danger."

London, England (CNN) -- A sense of dismay and disbelief was spread across the German newspapers on Monday, uniting mass circulation and quality print titles across the political divide into condemning the handling of the Love Parade stampede.

The Hamburg-based Spiegel said the mass panic, in which 19 people died and 340 were injured on Saturday in Duisburg, "Was a Tragedy Waiting to Happen."

The magazine also said its online version "has obtained an internal document which shows that the site was only approved for a maximum of 250,000 revelers, a far lower figure than the 1.4 million people that organizers reported."

The mass circulation Bild, while also critical of the handling of the event, gave prominence to the experiences of festival goers caught up in the panic.

In an interview with Christin Bloch, 17, from Dortmund, the paper said she was lucky to "survive with cuts and bruises after rescuers pulled her unconscious from the death zone."

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Bild quotes Bloch: "Suddenly we were in the crowd. The boys wanted to protect us, they joined hands and formed a circle around us, but it didn't help. We were squeezed together. Then we fell. Someone fell on to my neck, then I fainted. When I came back to, people were dragging at me, they wanted to get me out. On my legs were two dead bodies."

The paper also quotes a family member of one of the reported victims Fenja Siebenlist, 23, from Gelsenkirchen, North Rhine Westphalia.

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The young people were abused
--Die Tageszeitung
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Bild quotes the family member: "I immediately tried to contact her as soon as I heard of the catastrophe. She did not answer the phone. Then we rang all the hospitals, and even there she could not be found. This morning the police came and brought us the terrible news."

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung lead with the headline: "The young people were abused."

It quotes a 60-year-old "educational scientist" who says "The young people were abused as extras [during] an exotic spectacle."

The conservative Die Welt said "All the injured are out of danger... Of the 342 injured in the Love Parade in Duisburg , no one is in mortal danger."

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung carried a thunderous editorial:

"Even at this early stage we can talk about several simple truths. For example: The organizers of Germany's biggest event overextended themselves. Those responsible succumbed to their craving for status. Warnings from participants were ignored, and lives were recklessly endangered.

"The organizers had even considered the effects of an explosion in the tunnel (in their safety planning). Why then, was it so difficult to consider the possibility that, in a worst-case scenario, boisterous young people might fall into the crowd from a place where they were not supposed to be and trigger a panic? Couldn't a similar thing have happened if there had been a thunderstorm?"