SHANGHAI (dpa) – The Shanghai New Year’s Eve stampede that left dozens of people dead demonstrated “critical neglect,” the mayor of the east-coast commercial hub said Sunday.
“The (incident) exposed critical neglect and hazards in Shanghai’s safety infrastructure,” Yang Xiong said at the annual meeting of the Shanghai People’s Congress, the local legislature.
At least 36 people were killed and 49 injured after panic broke out 25 minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve at a crowded square along the city’s famed Huangpu River waterfront.
Many were crushed when crowds trying to move up a staircase clashed with others trying to move down it, city officials said.
Family members of victims have called for senior city officials to be held responsible for a tragedy they believe could have been avoided with better policing and contingency planning.
But Yang said Sunday that the responsible officials have already “been held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Relatives of those killed will each receive 800,000 yuan (US$128,844) in compensation, the city had said Wednesday.
Injured victims will also receive compensation depending on the severity of their injuries, the local government said in an announcement posted on its website.
Eleven Huangpu district officials were punished and four were fired after a city investigation found them largely responsible for the tragedy.
No senior municipal officials have been punished so far.
The investigation revealed that 771 police and 180 security guards were deployed for the new year event monitoring a crowd that had reached 310,000 by 11pm that evening.
At Chen Yi square, where the stampede broke out, there were only 60 officers, the report said.
“Police failed to expect the number of people for this event,” Shanghai’s Huangpu branch police deputy commander Cai Lixin was quoted as saying earlier by the China News Service.