Friday, January 2, 2015

Shanghai'd In Shanghai: 35 Dead in Shanghai in a Stampede During New Year Celebrations


SHANGHAI – Thirty-five people died and 48 others were injured, 14 of them seriously, in a stampede at a New Year’s Eve celebration in China’s financial capital, local officials said Thursday.

The tragedy occurred in Chen Yi Square, located near the historic waterfront known as the Bund on the banks of the Huangpu River, shortly before midnight Wednesday.

It is one of the most iconic districts of Shanghai with views of skyscrapers in Lujiazui, the financial district, and one of the most popular sites for New Year’s celebrations in the city.

The dead were said to be between the ages of 16 and 36, and 25 of them were women, medical sources told the state news agency Xinhua.

The 48 injured, also mostly young people, were taken to several hospitals in the city with 14 listed in critical condition, according to the Shanghai Daily.

While the inhabitants of the city gathered Thursday at the scene of the stampede to lay wreaths to remember the victims, Chinese police began an investigations into what caused the tragedy.

According to the first accounts of the survivors reported by the press, the stampede originated on the stairs of a raised platform adjacent to the square where a crowd had gathered to collect coupons that were being thrown from surrounding buildings.

Witnesses told the Shanghai Daily that the stampede started when access to the stairs around the banks of Huangpu was blocked to a large group of people who fell to the ground and formed a pile.

Other witnesses told the Xinhua agency that the coupons looked like dollar bills, each with a bar’s name printed on them, and were being thrown from the windows of nearby buildings which led to a fight.

“We were stuck in the middle and saw some girls falling down while screaming. Then people began to fall,” said a survivor, whose 12-year-old son also ended up on the floor with his clothes covered in footprints.

Last year about 300,000 people attended the celebrations at the Bund, a number that far exceeded the forecasts of local authorities and caused traffic chaos.

For this year, the authorities had planned to limit access to the area of the celebrations to around 2,000 people.

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday called for an immediate investigation into the incident and stressed the importance of preventing such accidents from reoccurring, Xinhua reported.

Following the stampede, the Shanghai government suspended all New Year celebrations in the city.


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