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The BBC's Jon Brain
"Many remain in a critical condition"
 real 28k

Wolfgang Knoepfler of the Austrian Federal Police
Explains what happened at the stadium
 real 28k

Sunday, 5 December, 1999, 16:13 GMT
Five killed in Austrian crowd panic
Paramedical staff Paramedics attended to the 25 injured

Five people have been killed and 25 others injured after a barrier gave way at a snowboarding event in Austria.

The accident happened at the Bergisel stadium in Innsbruck as spectators were leaving the "Air and Style" exhibition - attended by some 40,000 people.

Police said the deaths and injuries resulted from a stampede of spectators that broke out after the barrier collapsed.

The accident happened shortly after 2200 local time (2100 GMT) on Saturday in a western sector of the stadium. Four people were pronounced dead at the scene, and a fifth died en route to hospital.

Austrian state television said four of those who died were young girls.

'Intoxicated'

Thomas Blazek, a spokesman for the Air and Style event, said the barrier apparently gave way after several spectators fell and were pushed against it.

Panic broke out as those people were trampled underfoot and that led to a stampede, he said.

A police officer was forced to fire a shot in the air to try to calm the crowd, after ambulance crews rushing to the scene were almost trampled, according to Austrian media reports.

Innsbruck Mayor Herwig van Staa told state television he was at the event and that drunkenness may have played a role in the incident.

"Many youths were heavily intoxicated," he said.

First aid

State TV also reported that people have complained at previous snowboarding events at the stadium that exits were too narrow.

Seventy rescue workers organised first aid on the spot.

An inquiry commission was dispatched to the stadium.

This was the second disaster in Austria in just over 48 hours.

Nine people were killed on Thursday evening when a gas explosion demolished an apartment block in the town of Wilhelmsburg, south-west of Vienna.

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See also:
04 Dec 99 |  Europe
Nine dead in Austrian blast building

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