35 Killed in Shanghai Stampede

35 people were killed and 43 injured during a stampede in Shanghai's Chenyi square, where thousands had gathered to usher in 2015.

Cynthia Blank,

Police control site after stampede
Police control site after stampede
Reuters

Thirty-five people were killed during a stampede at a New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Shanghai. 

The stampede occurred in Chenyi Square, a popular area in Shanghai's historic Bund district, overlooking the Huangpu River. It is often jammed with spectators for major events, as it was Wednesday night to usher in 2015. 

The Shanghai City government said the situation began at around 23:35 p.m. local time. They noted that a "working group" had been set up to handle the incident.

In a statement, they added that the additional 43 individuals who had been injured were transferred to hospitals across the city, and that the Shanghai party secretary had visited some of them.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also ordered the Shanghai government to determine the causes of the stampede as soon as possible, state TV reported.

China's official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed witness who said the stampede began as people started scrambling for fake dollar bills thrown from a night club's third-story window. 

Social media sites have posited that this scramble triggered the stampede, but official news agencies say the cause of the stampede is still under investigation. 

Photos from the scene posted on social media show several people receiving first aid, while others lie on the ground nearby amid debris. Another photo depicted police securing the area. 

"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."

Other witnesses say the fault lay in too many people. 

"There were really too many people!" Sina Weibo wrote online. "Squeezed inside, you could not budge, and could only move with the crowd."

She added that police had linked hands to form a human wall after the stampede, but that wall was breached several times.

US photographer Gaby Gabriel told the BBC: "Nobody seemed to be in control and people were crying. It was one of those times when you see the worst in people."

According the Shanghai police department's social media account some "tourists" had "fallen over" at the Bund. They urged people to evacuate the area in an orderly fashion.  




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