Merkel 'appalled' by Love Parade stampede

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she was appalled by the news that 19 people had been killed during a stampede at the Love Parade music festival in the western city of Duisburg.

"I would like to express my condolences to the families of the victims and also the families of the injured. We hope that the injured will get better soon. We, the German Federal government, have offered all of our support to the regional government of North Rhine Westphalia. The German Federal government is here to help, if help is needed," Merkel said.

The death toll rose to 19 on Sunday and police are now pursuing an investigation into how the mass panic occurred.

Chancellor Merkel continued: "I think it now needs to be very intensively investigated as to how this happened because the many young people who were delighted to be going to the event have had a very difficult experience and have terrible memories and we have to do everything to make sure that something like this does not happen again and so that the people, the parents who send their children to events like this can be sure that something like this never happens again. It really was a really awful and sad day."

The festival drew about 1.4 million people from all over Europe, most in the 18-26 age bracket.

Duisburg police tried to close the tunnel entrance about a half an hour before the chaos broke out in the late afternoon on Saturday, but panic ensued nonetheless. The festival was not immediately cancelled because authorities feared an abrupt halt could spark a second panic.