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Love Parade: A Failed Project

Essay by   •  December 4, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  3,481 Words (14 Pages)  •  1,425 Views

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History and Background

The Love parade was a music festival that originated in 1989 in West Berlin where it was help from 1989 to 2003. The parade was the idea of a German DJ named Dr Motte, as was originally meant as a demonstration for peace, liberty and love.

As the festival progressed through the nineties it was promoted as a demonstration to pass any responsibility for the clean-up costs to the German state. In 2001 the Love Parade was officially classified as a commercial event turning the costs of cleaning back to the companies organising the event. In 2004 the event was cancelled due to excess costs and reduced numbers. The event was re-launched in 2006 and moved to the Ruhr region of Germany in 2007. The 2007 event had an attendance of 1.2 million compared with 500,000 the previous year. (Berlin Life)

The 2008 festival had an attendance of 1.6 million.

The festival usually passed off peacefully and for an event of its scale had very low amounts of crime, with only a small number of thefts and drug possession charges being brought against people.

Different acts performed from stages on top of trucks that were often mobile during the event.

What Happened?! (Refer to picture evidence in appendices)

On 24th July 2010, 21 people were killed at the Love Parade in Duisburg, Germany.

The festival took place in the northern part of the grounds. Trucks with DJs and dancers drove in circles around the old freight depot. In order to get to the festival area, visitors first had to pass the access control points on the east or west side of the venue. They then must pass through a tunnel to access the premises where the music is played. There was only one main entry and exit ramp and there was a very small 2nd exit ramp.

On the eastern side they must pass through a tunnel and on the western side they must pass beneath three bridges.

During the 1st three and a half hours, the system for entry and exit was working without any major incidents, (shown on CCTV). Then at 3:50pm, the police started forming a cordon in the Western area in front of the small exit ramp. This cordon blacks the visitors entering and leaving from that side. A couple of minutes later, police form a 2nd cordon on the east side of the tunnel. At this stage both access areas have been blocked by police.

Just after 4pm, there was a sudden build-up of people in front of the 1st cordon. A witness claimed that police had given the order for the access control point on the west to be opened and moved to an area behind the small exit ramp.

Police then formed a 3rd cordon at the bottom of the main exit/entry ramp at its narrowest point. The fire department deemed this decision by the police to be "Very problematic with regard to operational tactics". This shows that the emergency services were not operating together.

Just after 4:10pm, police closed the 3rd cordon on main entry/exit ramp. At this stage the number of people wanting to exit the event is growing very quickly and they cannot leave. This then creates a bottleneck.

At this stage, police had now been blocking the crowd flowing in and out for over 15 minutes. The pressure on the other side of the police cordons is increasing at a rapid rate as a result of more people trying to get into the event.

At about 4:15pm, the police dissolved the cordon on the eastern side of the tunnel. A minor scuffle broke out between visitors and police. The crowds that had been held back can now flow freely from the east towards the main exit/entry ramp and approach the other two cordons from behind.

At 4:20pm, the western cordon dissolves. The crowds that until now have been held back by police flock towards the entry/exit ramp from both directions of the tunnel. They hit the crowd that is still contained by the 3rd cordon, head on. By now there was two extremely dense crowds facing each other still separated by the 3rd cordon.

In the 20 minutes following this, the situation becomes increasingly desperate as people from both sides continue to flow in unchecked. The pressure began to build at a severe rate at the lower part of the 3rd cordon, and people then became trapped and could not move. A lot of people tried to escape via several light towers and a barricaded flight of stairs. The situation became worse and worse.

Around 4:40pm, the pressure becomes so extreme that the fatalities begin to occur through people being crushed or fainting through dehydration and being trampled.

Poor Risk Analysis

In the weeks coming up to the Love Parade in 2010 in Duisburg, there was huge a huge element of concern raised on internet chat rooms about the event. The bloggers criticized the fact that the whole event would take place in an enclosed area, and that there was only one way to enter/exit which was through a concrete tunnel with no alternative exit in case of an emergency arising.

One blogger wrote "I can't believe it! I see people dying". The emergency services voiced similar worries and suggested relocating to avoid the extremely high risk of danger.

As a result of this, the organisers decided to carry out the "Delphi Technique" in which they hired world class researchers at Duisburg University. These experts disregarded these risk worries. As a result of these risks being dispelled, the event went ahead.

The Duisburg disaster showed us that there are key challenges in risk management. This disaster happened at a "public event, in a rich country with a highly sophisticated technological infrastructure, and it happened despite a safety concept developed with the help of the most advanced scientific knowledge on pedestrian flows and mass panic". It is crucial that we learn from this experience if we are to deal with the responsibility with the large-scale risks of the future. (Jaeger et al 2001). The problem with the Duisburg disaster is that they did not learn or maybe chose to ignore previous experiences and succumbed to the financial pressure from the organizers and mindlessly prepared the event.

In the Duisburg case, the experts involved did explore potential disasters. The looked at the possibility of mass panic triggered through misinformation to the possibility of a bomb being place in the tunnel, but the crowd control accident of two dense crowds coming face to face was never recognised as a possibility. The study if pedestrian flows can be examined by mathematical methods known from physics. It can be applied to human behaviour with the help of advanced technology through computer simulations. (Helbing et al 2005; Schreckenburg



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