Press Review Monday 26 July 2010
German dance rave tragedy
The Love Parade tragedy in Duisburg in Germany dominates all today's front pages. Horrifying pictures show people scrambling up a dusty embankment to get away from the crush. Most of the papers quote Dutch revellers caught up in the panic and ensuing stampede in which 19 died and 432 were injured.
"If you fell down, you were dead" De Telegraaf's headline explains to its mass readership. "I fainted and my legs gave way, but I just stayed upright," a 20-year-old woman tells de Volkskrant, pointing out that the excruciating pressure of the crowd stopped her from collapsing to the ground and actually saved her life.
Nrc.next says while people were suffocating in the tunnel entrance to the site of the mega-rave, hundreds of thousands of people were ecstatically dancing to Dutch DJ Tiësto. It points out that while the organisers expected over one million people to attend the rave, the site could only accommodate around half that number.
The paper quotes a local resident writing in a local paper two days before the event: "...are they trying to send a million people via the Karl-Lehr-Strasse to the festival site? A single road through a tunnel with two small footpaths?...That can't be right..."
Nrc.next wheels out the inevitable Dutch experts with their choruses of disbelief. "It's scandalous that this happened," fumes one. "We know enough nowadays about mass-crowd management to prevent this sort of incident from happening."
Dutch coalition soap opera continues The tortuous Dutch coalition negotiations also continue to figure prominently in the papers. Protestant daily Trouw even devotes a tiny corner of its front page to the news that the Christian Democrats CDA have now agreed to talk to the populist anti-Islam Freedom Party PVV.
However, the paper points out there is absolutely no question of official coalition negotiations as yet. The CDA will first want assurances on a number of "points of principle". These include the PVV giving up contentious manifesto promises such as ethnic registration, a tax on the Islamic veil and limits to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion.
Trouw is anything but optimistic about the likelihood of the two parties eventually joining the conservative VVD in a right-of-centre government. It says that even if the questions of principle are sorted out, there remain enormous differences between the CDA and the PVV in areas such as social-economic policy and health care.
Last patrol in Afghanistan Dutch soldiers carried out their last patrol in Uruzgan in Afghanistan on Sunday, bringing to an end four years of deployment in the Afghan province. De Volkskrant reports that local Afghans have mixed feelings about the replacement of the Dutch by United States forces.
Some worry that the Americans will be more aggressive and cause an increase in civilian deaths. Others couldn't disagree more: "Hopefully, the Americans will shoot dead more Taliban rebels," says one tribal elder. He thinks the Dutch were sometimes too soft: "They talk a lot, but don't shoot much," is the way he puts it.
Many Dutch service personnel feel their presence has vastly improved the security situation in Uruzgan but that their job is incomplete. "When we turn our backs tomorrow, everything will return to chaos," says one. A platoon commander agrees: "You have to resume the fight for the trust of the people every day". He explains that the situation remains fluid, with rebels moving from village to village "to whip up local people's fear".
Explosive Sunday Today's AD reports on what it calls an explosive Sunday. Homes were damaged by explosions in three places in the Netherlands yesterday. In Amsterdam, a man was blown into the street from his first floor flat by an explosion which ripped the front and back of his home clean away. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries. Three people were injured by flying glass. A gas leak may have been to blame.
In a village in Friesland in the north of the country, a 56-year-old woman's home was the target of a bomb which started a fire in the hall of her house. She was rescued by ladder from her upstairs bedroom. A 61-year-old man who is suspected of having planted the device was arrested shortly after the blast.
It was the same story in the central city of Apeldoorn, says the paper, with a bomb being thrown into the garden of a house. Police say relationship problems lay behind this incident. Although the residents were home when the blast took place, no one was hurt.
Holloway film overtaken by reality Despite its being made in the utmost secrecy, De Telegraaf reports that Dutch director Paul Ruven has been working for the past few months in Aruba on a film about Joran van der Sloot. The "fictional story" may sound to many suspiciously close to what actually happened.
An undercover journalist goes to Aruba five years after the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway. He intends to force a breakthrough in the case by breaking into the home of prime suspect Van der Sloot. The paper says filming on Aruba was done in secret because the case of Miss Holloway, who went missing in 2005 and whose body has never been found, remains a sensitive issue on the Caribbean island.
De Telegraaf says, while the film was being shot, reality threatened to make the movie redundant. Van der Sloot was arrested and confessed to the murder of a 21-year-old woman in Peru. However, we are reassured by the paper that this new twist to the story is being worked into the script and that the updated movie will hit the screens in 2011.
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