German prosecutors are beginning a manslaughter investigation following the stampede at the Love Parade techno festival in Duisburg that killed 20 people.
As friends and relatives mourn the victims, recriminations have broken out over the origins of the accident.
Germany’s national police union says city authorities ignored warnings that the venue was unsuitable for an event that attracted up to a million visitors.
“We will examine the security plan of the organisers and the city of Duisburg,” said prosecutor Rolf Haferkamp.
Duisburg mayor Adolf Saureland has already faced calls for his resignation – but others have criticised a police operation said to be more focused on containing movement than on safety.
“I saw very little of the police,” said one Italian eyewitness. “They were just staying in the position that was given to them. And the ambulances were far from the place where the tragedy was happening.”
Others have suggested that safety barriers could have been removed more quickly to release pressure on the crowd.
“I do not understand. We were trapped, enclosed. If there is panic, it is panic. They should have removed the security fences,” said a witness.
The investigation is likely to take weeks or months to complete.