Shanghai has called off New Year festivities and an official investigation is underway to find out what triggered a deadly stampede that crushed 36 people to death and injured dozens in China’s financial capital early Thursday.
Among the 47 who were injured – many of them students – at Shanghai’s famous waterfront area, called the Bund, were one Malaysian and three from Taiwan, state media reported.
Many among the dead were students. The youngest among them was 16 and the oldest 36.
Rescuers help victims of a stampede on Shanghai's historic riverfront. (AFP Photo)
According to state television, the dead also included a Taiwanese. The injured included tourists visiting Shanghai, a city of around 23 million people.
The normally crowded Bund, which offers a stunning view of some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers across the Huang Pu river was spilling over with people Wednesday night when first the chaos and then the stampede was triggered.
Estimates said that at least 300000 people had turned up for the New Year celebrations on December 31 in 2013.
The accident was triggered around midnight at the Chen Yi Square where a countdown show to 2015 was being held.
Paramilitary police officers walk on the location where people were killed. (Reuters Photo)
According to official news agency, Xinhua, some survivors said the stampede was triggered when people started to throw coupons resembling US banknotes over revelers outside a bar.
“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 looked like U.S. hundred dollar bills with "M18" printed in the middle, referring to a bar of the same name on the Bund,” the Xinhua report said.
“One photo from the scene shared on Weibo 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,” state media reported.
The injured were sent to several hospitals in the area. Relatives, it was reported, were rushing from one hospital to the other to find their family members. Some frantically rushed to police neighbourhood police booths and stations to track missing family.
Witnesses shared photos of the incident and the aftermath as the news spread all over China’s social networking platforms.
Residents light candles and plac flowers at the site of a deadly stampede to commemorate the victims.(AP Photo)
Reports added that the New Year's Eve countdown show in the past three years was held in an open area at the Bund.
“However, this year it was moved to the Bund Origin, a relative enclosed area, due to safety concerns. About 2,000 visitors would be invited to watch the show,” according to previous reports.
But the number of people who turned up last night far exceeded expectations.
President Xi Jinping has ordered a thorough enquiry into the incident, Xinhua said.