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Thousands mourn Love Parade victims in Germany

world Updated: Jul 31, 2010 21:07 IST

Thousands of people paid their respects on Saturday in the German city of Duisburg to the 21 people who died in the Love Parade tragedy a week earlier.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff were among several hundred mourners in a church service beamed onto big screens in and around Duisburg's football stadium.

A large black cross several metres (feet) high was set up on the pitch. Many of those in the stadium wore black and had tears in their eyes. The solemn ceremony was also carried live on television.

Before the service church bells rang mournfully out across the western industrial city of half a million people, where flags were at half-mast, as they were across the whole of a shocked Germany.

"I was there, working as a helper and saw it all happen. A friend of mine was hurt," Markus Spanke, aged around 20, told AFP in the stadium. "I will never forget it."

"We were at the Love Parade, we saw everything from the bridge. We can't shake those images of panic from our heads," said Phil Napeirala, 21, from nearby Essen.

Later on Saturday a march was due to take place from Duisburg train station towards the narrow tunnel that served as the only entrance to the grounds hosting the techno music festival. Reports said 20,000 people were expected.