NEW YEAR PARTY GONE WRONG: At Least 35 Dead And 42 Injured In China’s New Year’s Stampede

SHANGHAI (AP) — Thirty-five people died in a stampede during New
Year’s celebrations in Shanghai’s historic waterfront area, city
officials said Thursday — the worst disaster to hit one of China’s
showcase cities in recent years.
A Shanghai government statement
said another 46 people were receiving hospital treatment, including 14
who were seriously injured, following the chaos about a half-hour before
midnight.
The microblog of the People’s Daily, which is run by
the ruling Communist Party, said that 25 women and 10 men had died, aged
between 36 and 16. The injured included 3 Taiwanese and one Malaysian,
it said.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed witness as saying
people had scrambled for coupons that looked like dollar bills that were
being thrown out of a third-floor window. It said the cause of the
stampede was still under investigation.
At one of the hospitals
where the injured were being treated, police brought photos out of dead
victims who

they had not been able to identify, causing dozens of
waiting relatives to crowd around the table. Not everyone could see, and
young women who looked at photographs someone had taken on a cellphone
broke into tears.
A saleswoman in her 20s, who refused to give her
name, said she had been celebrating the New Year with three friends. “I
heard people screaming, someone fell, people shouted ‘don’t rush,'” she
said, adding she could not reach one of her friends. “There were so
many people and I couldn’t stand properly.”
Xinhua said the deaths
and injuries occurred at Chen Yi Square, which is in Shanghai’s popular
riverfront Bund area, an avenue lined with art deco buildings from the
1920s and 1930s when Shanghai was home to international banks and
trading houses. The area is often jammed with spectators for major
events.
On Thursday morning, dozens of police officers were in the
area and tourists continued to wander by the square, a small patch of
grass dominated by a statue of Chen Yi, the city’s first Communist
mayor.
Police stood guard at Shanghai No. 1 People’s Hospital,
where many of the injured were being treated. Earlier, relatives
desperately seeking information had tried to push past guards at a
hospital, state media photos showed. Guards had to use a bench to hold
them back. Later, police were allowing family members into the hospital.
People
who couldn’t contact friends or family members went to the hospital. A
man, who gave only his surname, Wu, said he had traveled to Shanghai
from a province in the south, Jiangxi, Thursday morning to look for his
23-year-old friend. She had gone to Shanghai to celebrate on the Bund
with another friend, but one of their phones was powered off and the
other had been lost and handed in to police, Wu said.
CCTV
America, the U.S. version of state broadcaster China Central Television,
posted video of Shanghai streets after the stampede, showing piles of
discarded shoes amid the debris.
One photo from the scene shared
by Xinhua showed at least one person doing chest compressions on a
shirtless man while several other people lay on the ground nearby, amid
debris. Another photo showed the area ringed by police.
Steps lead down from the square to a road across from several buildings.
“We
were down the stairs and wanted to move up and those who were upstairs
wanted to move down, so we were pushed down by the people coming from
upstairs,” an injured man told Shanghai TV. “All those trying to move up
fell down on the stairs.”
Last week, the English-language
Shanghai Daily reported that the annual New Year’s Eve countdown on the
Bund that normally attracts about 300,000 people had been cancelled,
apparently because of crowd control issues. The report said a
“toned-down” version of the event would be held instead but that it
would not be open to the public.
The stampede appeared to be near that area.
“Some
people have fallen,” Shanghai police soon warned on Weibo, a
Twitter-like service, and they urged people to obey police and leave the
scene without pushing.
The Shanghai city government released photos online showing the mayor hurrying into a local hospital to visit victims.
Meanwhile,
Xinhua’s top story on its website was not the stampede but President Xi
Jinping’s New Year’s message. Xinhua’s story in Chinese remained just
two paragraphs long hours after the disaster.
The China Daily newspaper in February reported that the city’s population was more than 24 million at the end of 2013.

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