- Associated Press - Sunday, July 25, 2010

DUISBURG, GERMANY (AP) - The organizer of the Love Parade says the yearly techno music festival will never be held again after 19 people were killed and 342 were injured in a panicked crush in an entrance tunnel.

Authorities faced tough questions at a press conference over why hundreds of thousands of people were funneled through a single highway underpass. They provided few details.

German media reported that there were at least 1.4 million people there.

Witnesses said the crush began after officers closed the end of the tunnel emptying onto the festival grounds after they become overcrowded around 5 p.m. The entrance to the tunnel did not appear to have been closed and people continued piling in.

Rainer Schaller says it’s “over for the Love Parade.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

DUISBURG, Germany (AP) _ The death toll rose to 19 on Sunday and police said that 342 had been injured in a panicked crush of partygoers in an overcrowded tunnel that served as the sole entrance to a German festival billed as the world’s largest techno music party.

Authorities prepared to face tough questions at a press conference over why hundreds of thousands of people were funneled through a single highway underpass into the former freight railway station used to host the annual Love Parade,

German media reported that there were at least 1.4 million people but police did not immediately confirm that estimate.

Witnesses said officers in Duisburg, a city near Duesseldorf in western Germany, closed the end of the tunnel emptying onto the festival grounds after they become overcrowded around 5 p.m. They told revelers over loudspeakers to turn around and walk back in the other direction. But the entrance to the tunnel did not appear to have been closed and people continued piling in, sparking a panic and then a deadly crush.

Witnesses described a desperate scene, as people piled up on each other or scrambled over others who had fallen.

Partygoer Udo Sandhoefer told n-tv television that even though no one else was being let in, people still streamed into the tunnel, causing “a real mass panic.”

“At some point the column (of people) got stuck, probably because everything was closed up front, and we saw that the first people were already lying on the ground,” he said.

City officials chose not to evacuate the site, fearing it might spark more panic, and many people continued partying, unaware of the deaths.Rescue workers carried away the injured as techno music thundered in the background.

Other workers had trouble getting to the victims, hampered by the huge crowds. Local media reported that the cell phone system in Duisburg broke down temporarily and frantic parents trying to reach their children instead drove to the scene to look for them.

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