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English>>China Society

Stampede tragedy shows public strains on booming metropolises

(Global Times)    08:23, January 08, 2015

The Shanghai government has confirmed that 36 people died during the stampede shortly before the countdown to midnight, when celebrating the New Year's Eve on the Bund. The majority of the dead were women and students, some still in high school, and 47 people were injured.

The Bund is the place to be in Shanghai on New Year's Eve and can be counted on for an extravaganza. Last year, visitors who came to the Bund to celebrate New Year's Eve were totally impressed by the spectacular multimedia show on the facades of the Bund's early 20th century buildings and the brilliant light show across the Huangpu River in the Pudong financial district.

This year, without noticing the change of venue of this year's light show, countless people, including tourists, headed for the Bund and gathered near the Bund's core area, Nanjing Road. Several survivors recalled a security guard told them there would be no light show, however, this was not enough to change the huge stampede forming.

You have to take the steps to reach the riverside promenade, which offers views of the river and the Pudong skyline. These stone steps leading to the promenade were a dangerous pressure point that sent people toppling as crowds on two levels pressed to try and find a good view of the Bund. Some witness also blamed the police were doing little to control the overwhelmed flow to the promenade.

After the tragedy happened, there are citizens who went to the site and left flowers, but the tragedy spot has quickly become a hot spot for sight-seeing. I paid a visit there and found a lot of people were just waiting there, taking photographs of people who came to lay flowers. Gawping at disaster is never welcome, but it's one side of society. Luckily more people come for grieving rather than curiosity, and more to learn and improve social security.

This tragedy has again alerted us to the issue of public safety in China. Crowd control is a headache anywhere, especially in the densely populated cities of a country with more than 1.3 billion population.

Stampedes have happened in China before, but this one was the deadliest in years. It occurred in a city that takes pride in normally being one of the country's best-run metropolises. And that's why it's so shocking.

Many of my friends couldn't even believe it happened; they thought it was fake news when they first read about it.

Chinese cities face an enormous challenge as they struggle to keep up with the relentless growth that is straining their infrastructures. Shanghai's population has reached 26 million, nearly doubling in two decades.

It is not just the increase in size but also the rapid evolution of lifestyles that poses difficulties. In big cities in recent years, as people become more affluent and have more leisure time, the scale of holiday celebrations has increased dramatically.

The authorities in big cities will now face more challenges to keep the public safe. This is not only an issue in Shanghai, but also for other metropolises in China. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Ma Xiaochun,Zhang Qian)

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