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Postcard from... Germany


Record alcohol consumption, mounting violence and eye-watering beer prices have failed to mar this year's traditional Munich Oktoberfest, which reached half-time yesterday with its backers claiming that the marathon drinking event was set to become the most successful yet.

The Bavarian Red Cross said yesterday that the number of so-called "beer corpses" – meaning drinkers who had become totally incapacitated from over consumption – had gone up by 20 per cent compared with the same period last year. They said rescue workers had been called out 445 times to deal with legless drunks.

Police said there had also been a marked increase in drink-related violence with several festival goers resorting to assaults with the 1l glass beer mugs that are a traditional feature at the event.

"Hitting somebody or throwing beer steins is an extremely dangerous crime and we were glad to have been able to arrest 25 offenders on the spot," police vice-president Robert Kopp said.

The two-week-long festival got off to an inauspicious start with the Association Against Fraudulent Pouring complaining that the price of beer had increased by nearly 50 per cent over the past decade. The average price for a litre of Bavaria's best is currently €9.35 (£7.50), compared with €6.55 in 2002.

Jan-Ulrich Bittlinger, the association's president, said he was drawing up a petition in an attempt to persuade the Munich city government to cap the price of beer. But organisers said this year's festival had already attracted a record half-time figure of 3.6 million.