Love Parade in Duisburg - the days after...
- Serie: Ruhr Music
… is when you slowly start realising what happened there - only one hundred metres away from us. After finally making it home – it took us three hours to get from Duisburg to Dortmund - I'm simply falling into bed. Out. Numb. Then, yesterday morning, a rude awakening and the picture are present instantly. I don't mean the pictures of the incidents, the tragedy, that I only saw later on after turning on the computer - no, the images in my head that remind me of what I saw when it happened.
Coming from the affected-cheerful VIP area, we walk around the festival site - however, we stay between the long hall and the vehicles, and not on the side of the motorway. This must have been during the time when they transported the dead and injured. The music so loud, booming basses; we don't hear sirens, don't notice any helicopters except for the one that is probably taking air pictures and flying circles anyway.
Yet we are wondering: Why are there so many dirty and tired looking people on the side – are they so drunk or stoned? Why do so many look so concerned? The site is quite empty around here – a lot more people could have been there. We don’t even get as far as the tunnel – we follow the vehicles on their tour around the hall. The floats slowly move on, many are dancing - everything seems to be as it should be....
No suspicion, only astonishment. Why is the atmosphere not as lively as in Dortmund? Why is nobody dancing on the floats any more? No answer in sight.
Then, for the first time, I can’t remember where exactly - I hear this sentence: “It's unbelievable, 15 people died and we continue to party.”
It makes me think of a suicide attack – somewhere in the Arabic world. I have to think about Kabul. Why? I know why the scene makes me think of an attack: the area of the old goods station appears like there was an attack. Trash and gravel everywhere, large rocks to fall over, nothing green and nowhere nice to sit. There are some old industrial ruins that have atmosphere - not this one, however. I get the idea I might be at a "party after a war where people come out of their shelters for the first time because the war is over and they desperately try to be happy but nobody can believe that it's over. The thought seems to be unrealistic but I have no idea how close I’m to the real happenings actually. There are dead people – not in a war, however but in a mass panic, only a few hundred meters away.
After going back to the VIP area and the next portion of free burgers and beer or strange drinks, a girl starts talking to us who says almost the exact same: 15 dead and many more injured who wanted to enter the site. We inquire further but she doesn't know much more either. Disbelief. I take a look at my mobile: it is just after 8pm and I see that my parents have been trying to reach me for 2 hours. Strange feeling in my gut. After about ten tries, I finally get my father onto the other end of the line. I tell him that I'm fine - what happened? He explains what they show on TV and I feel his anxiety and dismay. Try to stay calm. The time between the cigarettes smoked is getting less and less. Waiting. I start reading faces and it is obvious who is informed and who isn’t. No official announcement, nothing. Then, through the loudspeaker of a float: The visitors shall not be surprised why they don’t play music any more – they do this with respect to the dead. The announcement could hardly be heard, nobody jolts; At least I don't see anyone. I still don’t fully realise what happened - I don’t know which tunnel it is about, the tunnel we went through was totally empty and why did people fall from it as nobody was on it? No local knowledge whatsoever. As we understand at a later point in time - the pink bracelets around our wrists have probably saved our lives. And the fact that we had to change our means of transportation and take a bus form Essen since the train station in Duisburg was too full at the time. In doing so, we didn’t get off at the main station and never even got near this tunnel. The VIP and press entrance is on the other side of the festival site and nobody asked us to walk around the site to finally get in. This is what I only realize on Sunday. Many other things still seem unreal, I feel unreal myself, I stop once in a while and just stare into the distance.
All the unanswered questions, the why and the to me incomprehensible to simply continue as if nothing had happened is the most difficult - how can it be that people are celebrating and die hundred metres down the road?
We have a candle in our backyard since last night. I hope it is still burning.
- 21 killed in mass panic at Germany’s Love Parade
- The end of the Loveparade – organiser draws consequences from the tunnel disaster