36 people were killed and 47 more injured during a New Year’s event on the Bund in Shanghai, according to CCTV News:
Sina News has reported that masses of crowds in Chen Yi Square on the Bund led to the stampede. Authorities are working now to rescue and aid wounded. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
The city’s annual New Year’s eve 3D laser display on the Bund was cancelled this year, after taking place for the last three years, according to Shanghai Daily.
One week before the New Year, Shanghai authorities cancelled the event which attracted nearly 300,000 people last year, reportedly due to crowd control issues.
A toned down version of the celebration was held at several locations in the city instead.
According to posts on Weibo and Twitter, injured people are being taken to Shanghai No. 1 People’s Hospital.
We will update more as details come in.
— 今日热点 (@lvv2com) December 31, 2014
My view: As a native of Shanghai, I believe this is the worst (very rare) stampede incident in Shanghai history in recent decades. Shock!!
— George Chen (@george_chen) December 31, 2014
Local media: large number of injured people sent to Shanghai No.1 People's Hospital; SH Police try to maintain order pic.twitter.com/ctTwvGSibX
— George Chen (@george_chen) December 31, 2014
UPDATE [7:42 a.m.]: According to posts on Weibo, people were seen throwing fake US dollars into the crowds from a nightclub at building No.18 on the Bund before the stampede, which occurred at 11:35 p.m. local time. The city government has not confirmed the reports and is still investigating the cause. SCMP reported that many students were among the dead and injured. Their nationalities are not yet known.
Image via iFeng:
UPDATE [Jan 2nd, 10:00 a.m.]: The Shanghai government has updated the death toll to 36 people and confirmed 47 more injured, 13 of them seriously. Xinhua reports that seven of the injured had checked out of the hospital as of late Thursday evening.
A statement posted on the city government’s Weibo site late on Thursday said that the stampede was not caused when fake US dollars were thrown into the crowd, contrary to earlier reports and some accounts from witnesses.
According to investigation by the police, the fake notes were supposedly cash coupons for a pub located at No. 18 on the Bund. Surveillance video footage shows that the notes were thrown from the pub’s location, which is 60 meters away from the site of the stampede. While some people were shown to pick up the notes, it did not cause a rush and, in fact, happened after the stampede incident.
Early Friday morning, the Shanghai government released the names of 32 identified people who were killed in the stampede. The average age of those killed is 22 years old. Four other have yet to be identified.
The youngest of the 32 victims identified so far was a 12-year-old boy. The oldest victim was 37. All but four were aged 25 or under. 21 of the victims were female.
According to Xinhua, the majority of those injured were young people in their twenties, most of them women, including college students and children.
Xinhua has also reported that one Taiwan native, Jou Yi’an, 23 years old, from Taichung City, died in the stampede. Another person from Taiwan was injured and is receiving treatment.
The Malaysian foreign ministry has also confirmed that a Malaysian student studying at a Chinese university was among the dead.
The cause of the stampede is still under investigation, but police admit that they were not prepared for the huge number of people that flocked to the Bund for the mostly cancelled New Year’s show. On Thursday afternoon three police officers who were on patrol on Wednesday night attended a press conference to explain the police response. Xinhua reports:
Deputy commander of the branch Cai Lixin said the road became increasingly packed after 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday night.
The police expressed regret over their failure to effectively intervene when the tourist flow “increased irregularly” at 11:30 p.m.
Around 500 police were mobilized after a surveillance camera showed that a passageway near Chen Yi Square became congested with people after 11:30 p.m., Cai said.
Given the overwhelmingly large crowd, the police cut through forcibly to enter the heart of the crowd and found some people had “physical discomfort,” he said.
A dozen police officers helped evacuate the injured from the crowd after the stampede and cleared a passage for ambulances to get through, said Wang Qiang, another policeman.
A video, shot by a Chinese journalist and posted to Weibo, gives a glimpse of the chaos that caused so many deaths.
This morning, People’s Daily published some accounts of the tragedy from survivors. Journalist Guo Xianzhong was at the scene when the stampede happened. He said that the steps near Bund 19 that lead to a viewing platform were massively over-crowded. Sensing danger, Guo climbed on top of a wall and helped haul a few people to safety. As the time approached midnight, though, the situation only got more out of control.
“At 11:34 pm, someone at the foot of the steps suddenly fell down. People nearby tried to lift them up and told the people at the top of the steps not to push and squeeze. But their shouts were drowned by the noise of the people coming down. More and more people were pushed down. It started to get out of control,” he said.
“At 11:40 pm, some young people on the wall called on people to shout ‘Back off! Back off!’ and make some gestures. The people at the top of the steps finally understood the situation and stopped moving down.”
Guo recalled that an ever-increasing number of police officers rushed to the scene around 11:50 pm, and tried to drag out people who were pinned under the crowds.
It wasn’t until 11:55 pm that people who had fallen but weren’t badly hurt could stand up. “However, those lying on the ground seemed to be dead,” Guo said.
“There was a hail of cries, screams, and shouts for ambulances. The corner by the Huangpu River was like hell on Earth.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping requested an immediate investigation into the cause of the stampede and asked the Shanghai government to “go all out” to rescue and treat the injured and properly handle the aftermath.
Xi said that a profound lesson should be learned from the incident.