Shanghai Fires Four Officials for Deadly Stampede – Bloomberg

(Corrects number fired in headline, 1st paragraph.)

Shanghai sacked four officials and punished
seven others for not providing enough security to prevent the
deadly New Year’s Eve stampede, the first punishments meted out
after President Xi Jinping ordered a probe into the accident.

Officials from Huangpu district, where the disaster
occurred, failed to monitor crowd traffic and didn’t respond to
emergencies quickly, Xiong Xinguang, head of Shanghai’s
emergency reaction office, said today at a briefing announcing
results of the investigation. Huangpu district Party Secretary
Zhou Wei and district chief Peng Song were among the officials
removed from their posts, according to an investigation report.

“Huangpu district officials underestimated the risk of
massive numbers of people gathering at the site,” Xiong said.
“There was a serious lack of precautions and preparations.”

The stampede in the historic Bund area, which killed 36
people, was the city’s deadliest since 2010. The disaster
tarnished Shanghai’s image as it seeks to become a global
financial center and spurred the government to cancel several
large events celebrating next month’s Lunar New Year holiday.

Today’s investigation report provided details on the chain
of events leading up to the stampede. The trampling occurred at
11:35 p.m. when crowds suddenly grew large and people started
falling from stairs leading up to the Bund’s famous riverside
promenade. The number of revelers surged to about 310,000 from
120,000 within two hours, according to the investigation, which
examined 70 hours of video clips from 36 security cameras.

Canceled Event

The report also blamed the officials for not adequately
communicating to the public that an annual New Year’s countdown
event at the Bund had been canceled and a large number of
visitors were expecting the event. Notice that the event was
canceled was only made the day before, the report said.

Chenyi Square, where the stairs are located, is the most
densely packed area of the Bund as it is about 500 meters from
two subway lines, the report said. The two subway stations were
operating that night in a break from past years.

“This is in line with expectations that the incident would
lead to some changes in Shanghai’s official circles,” said Hu
Xingdou, a professor at the School of Humanities and Social
Sciences at Beijing Institute of Technology. “So far the
results are satisfactory.”

Safety Priority

Of the 49 people that were injured, three are still
hospitalized, Shanghai government spokesman Xu Wei said today.
Two-thirds of the fatalities were female, according to a name
list
posted by the government. Most who died were in their 20s
or teens, the list showed. The youngest was 12.

President Xi told local governments to prioritize safety
ahead of the mass celebrations for the Lunar holidays that start
Feb. 18 and last for a week.

Shanghai canceled five of 29 events scheduled to celebrate
the Chinese New Year, Vice Mayor Zhou Bo said at the briefing.
The city announced Jan. 10 that it won’t hold its annual Lantern
Festival event for safety and management reasons. The government
will conduct a scan of potential safety risks in schools,
subways and sightseeing venues by end-June, Xiong said.

Inadequate surveillance and shoddy work standards in the
city’s construction industry were the cause of a high-rise
apartment building fire in 2010 that left 58 people dead,
according to then-Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng, who has since been
promoted to the city’s highest-ranking Communist Party official.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story:
Helen Yuan in Shanghai at
hyuan@bloomberg.net;
Qi Ding in Shanghai at
qding15@bloomberg.net;
Jing Jin in Shanghai at
jjin32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Gregory Turk at
gturk2@bloomberg.net
Allen Wan

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