Shanghai’s joyful New Year celebration ended in screams, panic and chaos as a stampede enveloped a crowd of revelers so dense that emergency services were initially prevented from helping.
American Andrew Shainker, who teaches English in the city, spent New Year’s Eve on a restaurant terrace overlooking the pandemonium centred on a stairway leading up to the Bund, a riverfront promenade.
It “looked from above as if people were getting crushed as more and more people came from all directions”, Shainker wrote on Chinese messaging service WeChat. Mayhem ensued.
“We saw people on the opposite side of the street pushing – people trying to go up and people trying to go down. We heard screams of panic,” he told AFP.
Some, including foreigners, rushed to pull people to safety and perform emergency resuscitation.
“I witnessed lifeless bodies being carried out of a crowd one by one and dumped on the street. Each body had around 4 people carrying it,” he wrote on WeChat, adding most of the victims appeared to be Chinese.
“They tried their best to create a ring of protection around the bodies.”
But many people, he added, “stood or walked by and did not want to be responsible”.
Two ambulances arrived after about 30 minutes but were overwhelmed by the sheer number of dead and injured, he said.
“It was impossible for emergency services to get in there given the people and chaos,” Shainker (28) told AFP.
At least 35 people were killed and 48 injured, according to city officials.
“What I thought was the best view on the Bund ended up being a front row seat to an international tragedy,” Shainker wrote in his posting.
“I feel very grateful and lucky to be alive and safe. I hope everyone else made it home safe.” – AFP