A stampede by New Year’s revellers on Shanghai’s historic waterfront kills 35 people and injures dozens more. Duration: 00:57
New Year stampede kills 35 in Shanghai
China New Year stampede kills 35 in Shanghai: city govt
/ Shanghai (China) – 01 January 2015
A stampede by New Year’s revellers on Shanghai’s historic waterfront killed 35 people and injured dozens more, the city government said Thursday.
The disaster happened in a crowded square shortly before midnight as people packed the Bund area to usher in 2015, according to a local government statement.
While the cause of the crush was still under investigation, official news agency Xinhua quoted a witness as saying people had been scrambling for coupons thrown from the window of a nearby building.
The Bund, renowned for its pre-Chinese revolution architecture, is the former financial district of the country’s commercial hub and now a popular tourist destination, packed with high-end restaurants and expensive boutiques.
City government leaders called for “every effort” to care for the 42 injured, the local government statement said.
A photo on the website of the Shanghai Daily newspaper showed what appeared to be dead and injured people lying on the ground with crowds still in the background.
“I felt I was suffocating,” wrote one poster on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Some people with us will not come back.”
The injured have been taken to at least three local hospitals, the Shanghai government said in a separate statement.
By dawn, there was little evidence of the disaster beyond a lone police van with its lights flashing and rubbish discarded by celebrants the night before.
An elderly woman doing her morning exercises on the Bund said: “We offer sympathy for the dead and injured.”
At the entrance of the emergency room of the Shanghai Number One People’s Hospital, where some of the injured were taken, more than 20 police vehicles were parked outside and officers were preventing people from entering.
The mother of an injured 12-year-old boy sat in a chair crying surrounded by relatives.
“We don’t know what is happening but we can’t get in to see him,” said her older brother, declining to be named.
Although people have traditionally flocked to the Bund to celebrate the New Year, the district government overseeing the area has more recently hosted a performance to mark the occasion, local media reported.
The site was moved to a new location on the Bund for last night’s celebration, specifically due to concerns about overcrowding, after nearly 300,000 people turned out last year, the Shanghai Daily newspaper said on its website.
The “countdown” event, organised by the Huangpu district, which includes the Bund, reportedly included a light show, singing performances and finally fireworks.
– High-rise inferno –
Most large gatherings in China are carefully controlled by authorities but the country has seen other incidents in which overcrowding has caused panic and deaths.
Last year, 14 people — some of them children — were killed and 10 injured in a stampede that broke out as food was being distributed at a mosque in China’s Ningxia region.
Also last year, six students were killed in a stampede at a primary school in Kunming city in the southwest after the accidental blocking of a stairway corridor.
The Bund stands on the opposite bank of the Huangpu river from Pudong, the concentration of towering skyscrapers that epitomises Shanghai’s role at the heart of China’s economic boom.
But despite its rush to modernisation and position among China’s most advanced cities it has not been immune from accidents and problems with urban management.
In November 2010 a fire at a high-rise apartment building left 58 people dead, with some panicked residents attempting desperate jumps to safety or seeking refuge on scaffolding surrounding the structure.
The disaster became a focus of public anger over how such an incident could occur in a modern city, which hosted the World Expo the same year.
A preliminary investigation said welders accidentally ignited nylon netting around the 28-storey building, and five officials were later jailed, including the district head of construction, who was found guilty of abuse of power and accepting bribes and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
Two Shanghai metro trains collided in September 2011, injuring 284 people and prompting fresh accusations that safety had been compromised in China’s rush to develop its vast transport network.