HALLOWEEN TRAGEDY

Madrid Arena footage shows several crushes before fatal incident

Security guards directed partygoers to emergency exit routes unsuitable for access to dance floor

Event organizer's claim of mass gatecrashing not backed up by images

A still image from a security camera at Madrid Arena shows a large number of people trying to access the dance floor via a narrow corridor.

Security camera footage taken during the night of October 31-November 1 at Madrid Arena, the venue for a Halloween electronic music party at which four young women lost their lives in a human avalanche, shows how an excessive number of people caused several dangerous situations in the minutes leading up to the tragedy.

The crush, which left a fifth girl hospitalized, occurred at the principal access point to the main dance floor, on the ground floor of the building. This footage, to which EL PAÍS has had access, also shows that at around 2.30am, just before the star act of the night DJ Steve Aoki was due to take to the stage, doormen started to divert partygoers entering the arena from the second floor, as is habitual at the venue, toward entrances on the first and ground floors that also served as emergency exits. With the dance floor packed at 3am, the event organizers directed hundreds more people toward it via completely unsuitable access points.

Police have been analyzing the images for a week. The footage recorded at 2.20am clearly shows the great difficulty partygoers had reaching the main room of Madrid Arena. Just 10 minutes later, the organizers decided to divert people from the second floor entrance toward one on the ground floor that had previously been shut. From 2.20am until the fatal tragedy at 3.33am, there was a human crush every 10 to 15 minutes in the access corridor leading to the main dance floor. The cameras recorded security guards from the firm Kontrol 34 and revelers scrambling to drag those people trapped in the passageway to safety.

This footage contradicts the testimony of the event organizer, Miguel Ángel Flores, who attributed the overcrowding to an agglomeration of up to 4,000 people jumping the turnstiles after drinking outside the venue during the evening. However, the images taken on the night show nothing to back Flores’ claims. What they do show is youngsters entering the venue through eight access points on the second floor, showing their tickets and then being diverted to the emergency exit routes on the ground floor.

Flores faces four charges of manslaughter over the tragedy and has been released on bail pending further enquiries. The owner of Kontrol 34 has also been placed at the disposition of the investigating judge, who, along with homicide detectives, is in the process of counting each and every ticket stub collected at the entrance to the event, which is believed to have been attended by almost double the number of the arena’s 10,300 capacity.

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