As throngs of revelers were happily celebrating the coming of the New Year with family and friends at the historic Bund area in Shanghai on Wednesday night, they never expected the event would turn into a tragedy.
A stampede occurred at around 23:35 on Wednesday in the popular waterfront area in central Shanghai, where tens of thousands of people had gathered to watch a New Year’s Eve fireworks show. Thirty-six people were killed and 47 others injured by 11:00 Thursday, according to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning.
“The crowd in front of us began to move backward for quite a distance. When we ascended the stairs halfway, some people fell over, and more followed. People kept falling down on those behind them layer by layer. About two or three minutes later, the police arrived to help, but there were so many people that needed help and there was still a large crowd behind, so it was very hard to evacuate the people. The rescue operation went on very slowly,” said a witness surnamed Li.
Li said he and his girlfriend were separated in the chaos. He had been lying there with many others on top of him for dozens of minutes before he finally managed to get up.
He then searched for his girlfriend only to find her lying there motionless.
“I asked others nearby to help. They helped me carry (my girlfriend) off the stairs to the road where there was more space. Someone started to do CPR on her. At the same time, I cried for help and called the ambulance. I kept calling her name hoping she would wake up,” said Li.
Li’s girlfriend was sent to the Shanghai Changzheng Hospital 20 minutes later for treatment.
Another witness, who was out with her friends at the Bund, was also waiting at the hospital as one of her friends was seriously injured in the stampede.
“I could still see my friend when it was not that chaotic. But then when people started to scream, I couldn’t find my friend, but could still see her boyfriend. But it was impossible for us to get out of the crowd,” said the witness surnamed Wu.
The 47 injured are receiving treatment at four hospitals.
Two others who suffered minor injuries have left the hospital.
Among the injured at Changzheng Hospital was a student surnamed Wang, who sustained a slight injury to his left leg when the stampede occurred.
“Actually, what you were thinking at the moment didn’t matter because all you could do was follow the crowd. There was hardly any space between me and the others. I was forced to move with the crowd. All I needed was to keep balance with my legs and not to fall over,” he said.
Story compiled with information from CCTV News.