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- Posted on Jul 25th 2010 10:20AM by Liz Colville
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As previously reported, the deaths occurred Saturday afternoon in and around a packed tunnel leading to the grounds of the festival. About one million people are believed to have made their way to the festival, and only one entrance was available to them. It is thought that the stampede was caused when people panicked as they were directed by police to turn around and leave the festival. The gates to the festival had been closed to new entrants by this point, but it was evidently too late to prevent the stampede.
The festival, an annual tradition begun in 1989, continues as planned, with organizers saying they did not want to cause further panic by asking attendees to leave.
The state of North Rhine-Westphalia where the festival is held is opening an investigation into the cause of the stampede. An emergency worker told a German television station that the chaos may have started as several festivalgoers tried to enter the grounds by climbing over a fence and fell into the crowd.
One witness says some people may have felt trapped, and panic may have escalated as the first people were seen falling over in the crush.