Crowds mourn stampede victims

Updated: 2015-01-02 09:18

By Wang Zhenghua / Xu Xiaomin in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Visitors, relatives pay respects to those who died in New Year's Eve Shanghai tragedy

Residents arrived at the Bund, a stretch of river bank on the west side of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, on Thursday to mourn and pray for the 36 people that died in a stampede on New Year's Eve.

Seven people with minor injuries have been discharged from hospital, but 40 are still being treated in local hospitals. Thirteen of them have serious injuries, according to the municipal government.

By late afternoon, two rows of flowers had been placed in front of a statue of ChenYi, who became the mayor of Shanghai in 1949. The stampede happened at Chen Yi Square at around 11:35 pm on Dec 31, where an estimated 300,000 people had gathered on the Bund, Shanghai's most popular tourist attraction, to celebrate the upcoming year.

"I'm shocked," said a woman who gave her surname as Weng, laying a bouquet of flowers." Shanghai is an orderly city and viewed as more civilized than other cities in China. Although I didn't know anyone who died or was injured, I'm here to offer my condolences."

Police said the cause of the incident is being investigated, but admitted that the number of officers deployed to cope with the crowds was lower than for 2014's National Day, an equally important date that usually lures a huge number of visitors.

"There were no (celebration) activities yesterday, so we didn't dispatch as many officers as on last year's National Day," said Cai Lixin, a senior officer at Shanghai Public Security Bureau's Huangpu branch.

Witnesses blamed the incident on the huge number of visitors and poor crowd control.

The stampede happened on an 8 - meter - wide set of steps, one of many along the 1.5 - kilometer Bund, that lead to a viewing platform. Many people had opted to use the steps nearest to East Nanjing Road, another popular tourist attraction that was also packed with visitors.

The elevated platform provides clear views of the Pearl Tower and other land marks on the opposite side of the Huangpu River.

Wang Yuancang, an eyewitness, said: "There were conflicting flows of people on the steps. Some people were being pushed down the steps, but people continued to crush forward. Some police officers yelled to the crowds to disperse, but it didn't work. It was total chaos."

There were allegations that the stampede was triggered when people started to throw coupons resembling US banknotes to revelers from the third floor of an ear by building.

Most of the injured are aged about 20, and 28 of them are female. Of the 33 injured people that have been identified, two are from Taiwan and one is a Malaysian citizen, according to the Shanghai government.

On Thursday, President Xi Jinping ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the stampede, and said a profound lesson should be learned from the incident. He urged safeguards to be put in place to prevent a recurrence of the accident.

Premier Li Keqiang stressed the importance of safety in public places, particularly during holidays. He ordered the authorities in Shanghai to "make every effort" to reduce injury - related deaths and to console relatives of the dead, adding that strict precautions should be taken to prevent such incidents, and said public safety and social stability should be maintained.

The Bund was packed with visitors on Thursday, but the atmosphere was calm .Many people arrived in tour groups. A guide from the Shanghai bureau of the China International Travel Service, who gave her name as Liu, said the agency had not altered its itineraries following the stampede.

Meanwhile, the Shanghai authorities heightened security to cope with the huge number of visitors at the Bund on Thursday, and officers were ordered to stop behavior that could lead to further accidents.

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 Crowds mourn stampede victims

Residents lay flowers at the site of a deadly stampede in Shanghai on Thursda y. At least 36 people died in the incident, the worst disaster in the metropolis in recent years, which occurred during New Year celebrations in the municipality's downtown. Associated Press

Crowds mourn stampede victims

(China Daily USA 01/02/2015 page1)