Shanghai government officials said Friday that most of the victims of the stampede in Shanghai on New Year's Day were young and female. At least 36 people were killed and 49 were known to be injured when panic and confusion broke out among the crowd gathered at the Bund, a popular waterfront district in the city, for New Year’s celebrations.
Thirty-two fatalities have been confirmed so far, the youngest being a 12-year-old boy Mao Yongjie, according to Agence France-Presse. Reports said 28 of the confirmed fatalities were victims aged 25 or under, and 21 were female. The oldest victim was 37-year-old Du Shuanghua. The list included a woman from Taiwan and Malaysia. In addition, 13 suffered severe injuries, and four are in critical condition, Chinese state press Xinhua reported.
Participants said the crowd could have been even bigger than the 300,000 who attended last year's celebration, according to the New York Times. “We were just trying to walk up the steps to see the light show, and then people at the top began pushing their way down,” a 20-year-old man told the Times. The cause of the stampede is yet unknown, but the police has dismissed rumors that it was caused by revelers rushing for fake money scattered on the grounds. President Xi Jinping has urged Shanghai authorities to find the cause of the incident, and the city’s Communist Party secretary, Han Zheng, has formed a working group to lead the investigation, according to the Guardian.
Participants have identified a flight of stone steps as being the toppling point as the crowds ahead tried to push back, where those caught in the mire were trampled on or asphyxiated. Many have questioned why authorities permitted so many people into the space in the first place, according to the Wall Street Journal. Police and security staffing levels weren't clear, according to the Wall Street Journal, but some local reports said that there were 1,200 police officers deployed that night. Whatever the actual numbers were, residents and city officials have said that they weren't sufficient, according to Reuters. Police officials gave little comment, citing the ongoing investigation, and Reuters reported on Thursday that authorities didn't permit foreign media into a briefing, underscoring concerns about negative coverage.
The incident area had been cordoned off on Friday, with grieving relatives and friends holding a candlelight memorial. People on China’s popular microblogging site Sina Weibo have been offering their condolences, as well as questioning how such a disaster could have happened in the country’s most-developed city on a page for the incident, attracting more than 890 million views and 168,000 comments so far.