World – Fatal stampede
Dozens killed in Shanghai New Year’s celebration
BEIJING – The oldest was 37; the youngest was only 12.
Shanghai authorities on Friday released details about 35 of the three dozen New Year’s revelers killed in a stampede on the city’s waterfront Wednesday night. The victims were young, with an average age of just 22.
Witnesses have described the chaotic, harrowing scenes they saw on the Bund, a popular area in the city to ring in the New Year.
Details of some of the victims have also come to light in state media reports.
They included Du Yijun, 21, a student who had just celebrated her birthday at Christmas. Friends reportedly described her as quiet but passionate about traditional Chinese literature, opera and fashion.
She went to the New Year’s Eve celebration with her boyfriend, a fellow student at Shanghai’s Fudan University.
After Du died of suffocation, her boyfriend posted a heartbreaking message online: “Losing consciousness in my arms, your breath and heartbeat became weaker and weaker. Finally they pushed you out of the cold emergency room. I failed to protect you.”
Li Na, 23, a migrant worker from a farming family in Jiangxi province, was looking forward to getting married in 2015. She went to the waterfront festivities with her fiance, her older sister and two friends.
The group was separated during the stampede. When Li’s fiance next saw her, she had already been declared dead in a hospital.
The dead also included a woman from Taiwan and another from Malaysia.
Report: Police underestimated crowd.
Forty-nine people were injured in the crush, authorities said. Twenty-nine of them remained hospitalized Friday, with 10 in serious condition.
State media reported that Shanghai police have acknowledged that they may have underestimated the scale of the crowd that gathered on the Bund on Wednesday night and failed to deploy enough personnel.
Although authorities had earlier called off the popular New Year’s Eve light show, many revelers — apparently unaware of the cancellation — still flocked to the Bund.
The state-run news agency Xinhua quoted officials as saying that the turnout had reached the previous year’s level of about 300,000 people by 8:30 p.m., far exceeding government expectations.
The cause of the stampede is still being investigated, but local media have cited witnesses as saying that it was started when people trying to get to the riverfront promenade clashed with others trying to leave.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded an immediate investigation into what happened.
He also warned officials nationwide about public safety as the country approaches its biggest holiday of the year, the Chinese New Year in February.