Shanghai New Year stampede causes heavy casualties

 

 

 

Two children watch a light show marking the coming of the New Year’s Day of 2015 in east China’s

Shanghai, on December 31, 2014.   Photo by Fang Zhe

 

Citizens watch a performance during a light show marking the coming of the New Year’s Day

of 2015 in east China’s Shanghai, on December 31, 2014.    Photo by Fang Zhe

 

A citizen takes photos with a smartphone during a light show marking the coming of the

New Year’s Day of 2015 in east China’s Shanghai, on December 31, 2014.   Photo by Fang Zhe

 

Citizens watch an illuminated portrait photo display during a light show marking the coming of

the New Year’s Day of 2015 in east China’s Shanghai, on December 31, 2014.   Photo by Fang Zhe

 

Citizens watch a light show marking the New Year’s Day of 2015 at the Oriental Pearl Tower

in east China’s Shanghai, late on December 31, 2014.   Photo by Ding Ting

 

An illuminated portrait photo display is held during a light show marking the New Year’s Day

of 2015 at the Oriental Pearl Tower in east China’s Shanghai, late on December 31, 2014.

Photo by Ding Ting 

 

 

In this combination photo, a countdown to the New Year’s Day of 2015 is held during a new year

light show in east China’s Shanghai, on December 31, 2014.   Photo by Fang Zhe 

 

 

 

 

Darkest moment

in brightest night

 

 

By Gui Tao, Wang Jian, Lü Dong, Cao Kai, Wang Ruoyao, Zhu Hong, Wu Zhendong and Pan Xu 

 

Du Yijun was there to greet a bright New Year but never expected to have her life terminated before dawn.

Du, 20, a sophomore from Shanghai-based Fudan University, lost her life in a stampede on Wednesday night of December 31 at a crowded square in Shanghai’s gleaming Bund area.

Little was known about her at the moment except that she was fascinated with traditional Chinese culture. Her school mates declined to talk about her to “show respect to the deceased”.

For now, no exact statistics can tell how many people were with Du for celebrations when the tragedy took place. But Ming Ming felt what was called overcrowding almost at the cost of his life.

When the 12-year-old boy, going to the Bund to enjoy the night scene with his family, was pulled out of the panic-stricken crowd, shoe prints soiled the new coat he put on for the New Year.

His mouth and nose were bleeding. People around him were screaming, crying and calling for help.

Ming Ming was saved by his heroic mother, who gave her surname as Yin. They are both survivors of the bloody New Year stampede that killed at least 36 and injured another 47.

The mother and son were standing at the close-packed Chen Yi Square when the stampede occurred. The Square near the Bund area was named after late marshal Chen Yi, who served as Shanghai mayor in 1949.

The Bund, a stretch of riverbank on the west side of the illuminated Huangpu River, saw thousands of revelers ushering in the New Year against the backdrop of historic architecture and dazzling skyscrapers at night.

On the other side of the river stands the Oriental Pearl Tower, a building representing the miracle of China’s booming economy over the past decades.

Not far away from the Bund, the newly-established Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has been a pride of the country.

The mood was high. The crowd, mostly college students in festive clothes and snapping pictures with their mobile devices, was waiting for the count-down.

But suddenly, Yin, whose family members were standing on the steps adjoining the major road and the sightseeing platform, felt something had gone wrong. A commotion erupted and people began pushing her and her family around.

“The steps leading to the platform were full of people. Some wanted to get down and some wanted to go up. We were caught in the middle and saw some girls falling while screaming,” she said. “Then people started to fall down, row by row.”

The crowd started to panic. Yin tried to shield two kids in front of her from the crowd, and then turned back to call her son who was after her.

“He had already tumbled to the ground,” said the woman in tears.

Ming Ming is now receiving treatment at a local hospital along with some other injured, who are mostly in their twenties.

The exact cause of the incident has yet to be confirmed.

Some survivors said they were reluctant to recall the scene, which they described as “horrific and hellish.”

“It was too crowded to make a turn and we felt squeezed almost out of breath,” said Yu, a woman who escaped from the incident. “There were people screaming and shouting — Police, help me.”

But it was too noisy and turbulent. Many fell over and people started trampling one another, said Yu who gave only her surname.

“When escorting my friend to the hospital, I saw four others in the ambulance, all badly injured,” she said, adding that the only one who remained conscious was vomitting blood.

“It was too grisly a scene to recall,” Yu said.

“You can’t imagine this: you are squeezed off the ground. Someone behind you grabs your hair to stand up. Right there in front of you, a girl begs you to save her life and says she is dying, while another just lies motionless,” said a post submitted online by Zuo Zhijian, whose account was verified by Sina Weibo as a local journalist.

“Two dozen people were lying on the ground with bags, cell phones, shoes and scarves scattered around, as well as blood and vomit everywhere,” he wrote.     (*Ming Ming is an alias.)

 

 

 

 

 

Photo taken on December 31, 2014 shows the bund area of east China’s Shanghai. New Year

celebrations in Shanghai’s Bund area went astray Wednesday night as a stampede resulted in

36 people dead and 47 injured.   Photo – Xinhua

 

Photo taken on January 1, 2015 shows the scene of a stampede that caused casualties among

people who took part in new year celebrations in east China’s Shanghai. New Year

celebrations in Shanghai’s Bund area went astray Wednesday night as a stampede resulted in

36 people dead and 47 injured. The city has set up a working team for rescue operations and to

deal with the aftermath. Cause of the accident is under investigation.   Photo – Xinhua

 

 

 

Shanghai New Year stampede

causes heavy casualties

 

 

By Wang Jian, Gui Tao, Lü Dong, Cao Kai, Zhou Lin, Zhu Hong and Wu Zhendong

 

 

At least 36 people died in a fatal stampede during New Year celebrations late on Wednesday of December 31 in Shanghai, according to local authorities as of Thursday night.

Seven of the injured have checked out of the hospital. Among the 40 remaining in treatment, 13 are seriously injured, the municipal government said.

The tragedy happened at a crowded square in Shanghai’s gleaming Bund area at around 11:35 p.m. Most of the injured were young people in their twenties, a majority of them women. There were also college students and children, medical sources told Xinhua.

According to the Taiwan affairs office of Shanghai, Jou Yi’an, about 23 years old from Taichung City, died in the stampede. She visited the mainland for the first time. Another person from Taiwan was injured and is receiving hospital treatment.

Local authorities confirmed to Xinhua that one of the victims was a female student from the Shanghai-based Fudan University, one of China’s most prestigious universities. The student, surnamed Du from Yunnan Province, was fatally injured during the incident and died later in the hospital.

Police are investigating the cause of the stampede. The municipal government set up a working team for rescue operations and to deal with the aftermath.

A large number of police can be seen at road intersections close to the Bund on Thursday night. The nearest subway station to the Bund was closed for safety reasons, according to a notice posted out of the station.

The Bund, a stretch of riverbank on the west side of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, is a popular destination for New Year celebrations, with its historic architecture and skyscrapers along the river displaying dazzling light shows at night.

On Thursday morning, many residents and tourists came to Chen Yi Square with flowers to mourn the victims.

 

HELLISH SCENE

 

Survivors described the stampede as “horrific and hellish.”

Some said they were standing on the steps adjoining the major road and the sightseeing platform when the deadly incident happened.

“The steps leading to the platform were full of people. Some wanted to get down and some wanted to go up,” said a witness who gave her surname as Yin. “We were caught in the middle and saw some girls falling while screaming. Then people started to fall down, row by row.”

The woman said she covered two children in front of her with her arms in the chaos. Her son followed her.

“When we brought him out of the crowd, his forehead was bruised, he had two deep creased scars on his neck, and his mouth and nose were bleeding,” said the mother.

Dirty shoe prints covered her son’s clothes when the 12-year-old boy reached safety.

“The crowd was in a panic. We stood in the crowd, feeling squeezed and almost out of breath,” said another witness surnamed Yu. “Some yelled for help, but the noise was too loud.”

Other survivors said police rushed to the scene and tried to pull out people who were stuck, but without much success.

“The chaos lasted several minutes, then some of the injured were seen being carried out of the crowd,” Yu said.

Local authorities told Xinhua that there were no New Year celebration activities officially organized on Wednesday night. The relevant government departments canceled this year’s New Year light show on the Bund scheduled on Thursday night, since shows held in previous years have drawn huge flows of people, causing safety hazards.

Some survivors said the stampede was triggered when some people started to throw coupons resembling U.S. banknotes to revelers outside a bar on the windy night.

Witness Wu Tao said some coupons were being thrown from a building’s third-floor window near the Bund, and people standing along the river bank started to scramble for the coupons.

The coupons had “M18″ printed in the center, believed to refer to a bar bearing the same name on the Bund.

Xinhua tried to reach M18, but phone calls to the bar were immediately hung up after being answered.

The official microblog of the Shanghai police said Thursday night that the coupons were dropped at about 11:47 p.m., after the stampede happened, according to surveillance video.

 

POLICE RESPONSE

 

A press release was organized by the Huangpu branch of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau on Thursday afternoon. Three police officers on patrol on New Year’s Eve attended the conference to explain what happened at the Bund and the police response.

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.

 

IMMEDIATE PROBE

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday demanded an immediate investigation into the cause of the stampede and urged prevention of such incidents in the future.

Xi asked the Shanghai government to “go all out” to rescue and treat the injured and properly handle the aftermath.

A profound lesson should be learned from the incident, said Xi.

Premier Li Keqiang underscored the importance of safety in public places, particularly during holidays.

Li told local authorities to “make every effort” to reduce injury-related deaths and console relatives, adding that strict precautions should be taken against major incidents, and public safety and social stability should be ensured.

In China, the world’s most populous country, stampedes have mainly been due to safety loopholes.

In September 2014, six students were killed in a stampede at a primary school in Yunnan Province after a stairway was blocked. In January 2014, a mosque stampede killed 14 people and injured another 10 in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In 2004, a stampede on a bridge in suburban Beijing killed 37 during a lantern festival.

Lack of awareness over safety risk behind public gatherings and loose control at the scene contributed to the tragedy, said Liu Tiemin, former head of the China Academy of Safety Science and Technology.

“The Bund’ s viewing platform is long and narrow and the step structure of the Chen Yi Square makes it hard for crowds to flow, said Teng Wuxiao, director of the public safety research center with Fudan University.

The disorder at the scene also exposed the deficiency in emergency exercise and safety education, said Teng.

“For those areas with high safety risks, the authorities should have special emergency response plans and make sufficient analysis and assessment, including the arrangement of police, volunteers and supporting measures, ” said Teng.

The emergency response plan must be tested with simulated exercises and even practices, he added.

For mega-cities like Shanghai, the government should set up a permanent safety management department to coordinate operations of all safety-concerned departments and ensure safety measures put in place, said Teng.

Liu Shilin, head of the academy of urban science with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, suggested that when the influx of tourists exceeds the ceiling, one person per square meter indoors and four people for every three square meters outdoors, the authorities should temporarily shut down scenic areas, exhibition centers and evacuate the people.

Liu said information technology can be used to detect the population density and make timely warnings through social media platforms, including Sina Weibo and WeChat.

 

 

 

 

 

PHOTO REPORT

 

 A man presents a bouquet to the victims near the accident site in Shanghai, east China,

on January 1, 2015.   Liu Ying

 

A man walks past the Bund area with a bouquet in his hands in Shanghai, east China,

on January 1, 2015.   Photo by Liu Ying

 

Citizens present bouquests to the victims near the accident site in Shanghai, east China,

on January 1, 2015.   Photo by Chen Fei 

 

 

 

 

 

A local official introduces the condition of the victims at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital

in Shanghai, east China, on January 1, 2015. New Year celebrations in Shanghai’s bund area

went astray on Wednesday night of December 31 as a stampede resulted in 36 people dead

and 13 severely injured. The city has set up a working team for rescue operations and to deal

with the aftermath.   Photos by Liu Ying

 

 

 

 

 

CHINA VOICE

 

Growing pains

in rising but fragile China

 

By Gui Tao, Wang Jian, Lü Dong and Zhu Hong

 

China’s eventful year of 2014 ended in tragedy, with 36 revelers killed in a stampede as they were ushering in a new year.

The disaster, which happened in China’s financial hub of Shanghai, served as a wake-up call that the world’s second-largest economy is still a developing country which has fragile social management.

Similar incidents causing heavy casualties are rare in developed countries, either stampedes, coal mine explosions or plant fire.

An overwhelming majority of major human stampedes occurred in developing countries over the past decade, mainly in India, Kenya, Iraq and China.

The world’s most populous country, which is working on achieving its dream of rejuvenation, is no stranger to such incidents.

In 2014, two unrelated stampedes in China killed 20 people. In January, a stampede at a mosque in Ningxia killed 14, and another in September at a primary school in Yunnan killed six students.

For China, whose per capita GDP ranked at around the 86th in 2013, natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods might lead to heavy casualties due to poor infrastructure and porous management.

Even for a metropolis like Shanghai, which leads in modern management nationwide, loopholes still exist.

The stampede came years after a high-rise building fire killing 58 people and injuring 71 in Shanghai. Officials were jailed for abuse of power and corruption found in investigations.

Safety incidents may be the distressing price China has to pay before it grows further.

In his New Year address to the nation, Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the need to continue reform and advance the rule of law in 2015, comparing them to “a bird’s two wings.”

Recalling natural disasters and safety accidents, including the Ludian earthquake that killed more than 600 people in August, Xi urged improving people’s lives year by year.

Mentioning the word “people” over a dozen times, the president has sent a clear message that a country’s development should benefit its people. Improving people’s lives should become a yardstick against which national development is measured.

The bloody stampede in Shanghai is an alert to all. As China seeks greater economic achievements through a new round of reforms, people’s lives should always be prioritized.

There is no development worth people’s lives.

The year 2015 is expected to be a key moment for China. The Shanghai tragedy at the New Year Eve makes people think about how to make the year safer — real development should not kill.

 

 

 

 

 

BEIJING |  2015-01-01 22:12:52

 

Tourism authority demands

tougher precaution measures

after fatal Shanghai stampede

 

By Zhu Shaobin and Qian Chunxian

 

China’s top tourism authority made an urgent call on Thursday of January 1 to beef up precautionary measures against surging tourist numbers during holidays after a fatal Shanghai stampede killing 36 during New Year celebrations late Wednesday.

The National Tourism Administration (NTA) asked local tourism authorities to strengthen security measures, improve emergency response plans, and take strict measures to control tourist flows at scenic spots.

It also required local scenic spots and travel agencies to issue tourist flow information timely to tourists.

Under China’s Tourism Law, scenic spots are obliged to inform tourists and report to the local government when tourist numbers could potentially exceed their maximum reception capabilities, so that measures could be taken to timely divert tourists in order to insure security.

The Chinese have a three-day holiday for the New Year’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

SHANGHAI  |  2015-01-02 19:20:29

 

13 people severely injured

in Shanghai stampede

 

By Fang Ning, Qiu Yi and Gong Wen

 

Thirteen people sustained severe injuries in a stampede during New Year celebrations late on Wednesday of December 31, including four in a critical condition, according to hospital sources on Friday of January 2.

Thirty-six people died in Wednesday’s incident. The municipal government on Friday released the identities of those who lost their lives. Among them, were 21 women in their 20s and the youngest was a 12-year-old boy.

By Friday, 18 of 49 injured had been discharged from hospital. All of those that remain hospitalized have had their next of kins informed.

Police are investigating the cause of the stampede and the municipal government has set up a working team for rescue operations and to deal with the aftermath.

There was no official New Year celebrations in the Bund, a stretch of riverbank on the west side of the Huangpu River in Shanghai.

The municipal government has been caught in the backwash of criticism for not making effective preparative measures to cope with the crowds that flock the Bund, although it did close the nearest subway station to the area.

 

 

 

 

 

SHANGHAI  |   2015-01-03 15:28:41

 

Indentities of Shanghai

stampede victims verified

 

By Pan Xu and Zhang Yi

 

Shanghai authorities have verified and unveiled all identities of the 36 victims killed in the Bund new year eve stampede, the government’s press office said on Saturday of January 3.

According to the victim list, 34 were residents of the Chinese mainland, 1 was from Taiwan and one was a Malaysian citizen.

The youngest victim was 12 years old and the oldest was 37 years old.

Students of Fudan University, East China Normal University and East China University of Political Science and Law were among those killed, according to sources.

The stampede happened on Wednesday night as tens of thousands people assembled in Shanghai’s historic riverfront walk to see a new year skyline show in the Pudong financial area on the opposite side of the Huangpu River.

Police are investigating the cause of the stampede and the municipal government has set up a work team for rescue operations.

The municipal government has been caught in the backwash of criticism for not making effective preparation measures to cope with the crowds that flocked to the Bund.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHANGHAI  |  2015-01-04 15:11:15

 

24 injured in Shanghai stampede

discharged from hospital

 

By Li Laifang and Qiu Yi

 

Twenty-four of those injured in the New Year’s Eve stampede in Shanghai, east China, have been discharged from hospital, while another 25 are still under medical observation, a city health official said on Sunday of January 4.

Of those in hospital, 7 are seriously injured and one is in a critical condition, said Wu Jinglei, spokesman for the Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission. Those hospitalized include 7 men and 18 women.

Wu said the commission had coordinated a team of medical experts to treat the injured and had offered counseling to them and their families.

Tens of thousands of people assembled in Shanghai’s historic riverfront walk, in the Pudong financial area, to see in the New Year when Wednesday night’s incident occurred.

Shanghai authorities have verified the identities of all 36 fatalities. Thirty-four were residents of the Chinese mainland, one was from Taiwan and one was a Malaysian citizen.

 

 

 

 

BLOG EDITOR:  MIAO HONG

 

 

 

 

 

 

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