China New Year's Eve crush: Police seek to identify victims of Shanghai stampede

Officers visit hospital to show relatives pictures of those yet to be identified

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The Independent Online

Worried relatives streamed into hospitals today, desperate for information about missing loved ones after a stampede during New Year celebrations in Shanghai’s historic waterfront area killed at least 36 people and injured scores of others.

At one hospital where the injured were being treated, police brought out photos of unidentified victims, causing dozens of waiting relatives to crowd around. Not everyone could see, and a group of young women who looked at the photos broke into tears when they recognised one of the dead.

The Shanghai authorities said 47 people had received hospital treatment, including 13 who were seriously injured, after the chaos erupted about half an hour before midnight. A number of injured people were discharged.

The deaths and injuries occurred at Chen Yi Square in Shanghai’s popular riverfront Bund area. The Shanghai government information office said one Taiwanese visitor was among the dead, and two Taiwanese and one Malaysian were among the injured.

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A woman grieves in a hospital where some of the injured from the stampede were admitted

 

The cause of the crush is still being investigated, although some witnesses said it was at least partly triggered when people rushed to pick up coupons that looked like bank notes. However this version of events was disputed by Shanghai police.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted one witness, Wu Tao, as saying some people had scrambled for coupons that looked like paper money being thrown out of a third-floor window.

However, Shanghai police said that while CCTV footage did show some papers had been thrown from a bar in a building overlooking the Bund, which a small number of people picked up, this did not cause the crush. “This incident happened after the stampede,” police said in a brief statement.

 

A saleswoman in her 20s, who declined to give her name, said she had been celebrating with three friends when the stampede occurred. “I heard people screaming, someone fell, people shouted, ‘Don’t rush’,” she said. “There were so many people and I couldn’t stand properly.”

One photo from the scene released by Xinhua showed  one person performing CPR on a shirtless man while several others lay on the ground nearby, amid debris.

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A friend of a victim covers his face as he waits outside a hospital where injured people of a stampede incident are treated, in Shanghai

 

Authorities had shown some concern about crowd control in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve. They recently cancelled an annual laser light show on the Bund, which last year attracted as many as 300,000 people.

In Beijing, President Xi Jinping has asked the Shanghai government to get to the bottom of the incident as soon as possible, and ordered governments across the country to ensure a similar disaster could not happen again, state television said.

AP; Reuters

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