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However, most streets downtown were blocked by police and the highways leading to the city were jammed. Several media outlets also reported that rescue helicopters had problems taking away the heavily injured because there was not enough space for them to land.

The founder of the Love Parade, Matthias Roeingh, known by the name Dr. Motte, blasted the planning for the event, saying: “One single entrance through a tunnel lends itself to disaster. I am very sad.”

German leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, voiced shock that an event meant to celebrate youth, peace and love could turn so deadly.

“The young people came to celebrate, and instead there are dead and injured,” Mrs. Merkel said Saturday. “I am horrified by the suffering and the pain.”

It was the worst accident of its kind since nine people were crushed to death and 43 more were injured at a rock festival in Roskilde, Denmark, in 2000. That fatal accident occurred when a huge crowd pushed forward during a Pearl Jam gig.

The Love Parade, where people from across Europe gather to dance, watch floats and listen to DJs spin, was once an institution in Berlin, but has been held in the industrial Ruhr region of western Germany since 2007.

The original Berlin Love Parade grew from a 1989 peace demonstration into a huge outdoor celebration of club culture that drew about 1.5 million people at its peak in 1999. But it suffered from financial problems and tensions with city officials in later years, and eventually moved.

The website of the Love Parade, the motto of which this year was “The Art of Love,” went black on Saturday night, with words in white saying:

“Our wish to arrange a happy togetherness was overshadowed by the tragic accidents today… . Our sincere condolences to all the relatives and our thoughts are with all of those who are currently being taken care of.”

Vanessa Gera reported from Berlin.