Chinese react to stampede deaths: Thought this happened only in India
China on Friday mourned the 36 dead from New Year festivities at its financial capital Shanghai, as the city government revealed the victims of the deadly stampede were mainly young women.
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, too. The youngest was 12 and the oldest 37. All but four were aged 25 or under, according to a list released by the city government on Friday, and 21 were female.
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.
The incident was Shanghai’s worst since a fire in a high-rise residential building killed 58 people in 2010 and tarnished the commercial hub’s international reputation.
On Friday morning, around 100 people gathered in front of a statue of Shanghai’s first communist mayor Chen Yi near the accident scene, some laying flowers in a government-approved show of mourning.
“I feel very sad about this and I hope the government will offer better safety controls for events like this,” said university student Chen Xiaohang placing white chrysanthemums at the site in memory of the sister of a high-school classmate who died.
Shanghai residents questioned why the city government did not control the crowds, though police said a “more than normal” 700 police officers were present.
“The Shanghai government should take responsibility for the incident. Most of the young victims must be the only child of their families,” taxi driver Xu Jianzhong said.
Under China’s strict birth control regulations most couples are restricted to a single child.
The official Xinhua news agency said the government could not shake responsibility for what happened. It asked why there were apparently so few police on duty for the tens of thousands thronging the Bund.
“There was not enough policing and planning. It is really sad to see a stampede happen in a big city like Shanghai,” said resident Tang Lifeng, 38.
Police have given few answers, saying an investigation is going on. On Thursday, they did not allow foreign media into a briefing, underscoring concern about negative coverage.
They have dismissed reports that a rush to pick up coupons thrown from a bar overlooking the Bund was the cause, with focus shifting to overcrowding on a raised viewing area.
The stampede has prompted unflattering comparisons with India, where stampedes are relatively common, another rapidly developing country and rival that many Chinese feel superior to.
“I originally thought that stampedes like this could only happen to Indians on pilgrimages,” Cheng Daolin, a manager at a Chinese engineering company, wrote on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.
“In the space of one night, China has become like India, and Shanghai has become like Mumbai,” wrote another Weibo user.