At least 35 people were killed and 48 others injured in a stampede during a New Year’s Eve midnight- countdown gathering in Shanghai’s waterfront tourist attraction, one of the worst tragedies to hit China in recent years.
The crowd crush happened at about 11:35 PM (local time) when people rushed to see a live show at a crowded, small place in the popular riverfront Bund area, state-run CCTV quoted police as saying.
Witnesses said that a large number of people rushed upstairs while those already there began moving down through narrow steps.
An injured person said as a result, those moving up fell down causing a huge pile of people that led to heavy casualties.
Most of the injured suffered fractures and the condition of five of them was stated to be serious, the report quoted doctors as saying. Maximum of those present last night were reported to be students.
Police had cancelled a live show at the sprawling Bund area earlier for safety reasons considering that such an event attracted over three lakh people last year.
Instead, it was allowed in a small building. Many who were not aware of the cancellation rushed to the place.
Earlier state-run Xinhua news agency quoted witness as saying that the stampede took place when some coupons which resembled “dollar bill” were being thrown from a building’s third-floor window near the Bund.
People standing along the river bank started scrambling for the coupons, it said.
“The steps leading to the platform were full of people. Some wanted to get down and some wanted to go up,” a witness surnamed Yin was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
“We were caught in the middle and saw some girls falling while screaming. Then people started to fall down, row by row,” she said.
Television footage showed a number of panicked women struggling to catch a breath, some in semi-conscious state being helped by police and relatives.
Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered an immediate probe into the incident and called for proper treatment to the injured. Such incidents during celebrations should be prevented, he said in a message.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said safety for public places, particularly during holidays should be ensured.
Li said “make every effort” to reduce injury-related deaths and console relatives, adding that strict precautionary measures should be taken and public safety and social stability should be ensured.