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At least 35 killed in New Year's party stampede

The tragedy occurred in Shanghai’s Bund 18 area.

China Shanghai Stampede A woman grieves at a hospital where those injured by the stampede are being treated. Source: Apexchange

A NEW YEAR’S stampede on Shanghai’s historic waterfront killed at least 35 revellers, most of them women, and injured dozens more, despite efforts by authorities in China’s commercial hub to mitigate the risk of overcrowding.

While some witnesses said revellers had scrambled for fake money thrown from a building, others downplayed the likelihood that this was to blame.

The disaster happened shortly before midnight late on Wednesday as people packed the Bund area to usher in 2015, according to a city government statement.

City officials said 35 people had been killed and 48 injured, 14 of them seriously.

China Shanghai Stampede A man shows a photo of his girlfriend who was killed in the deadly stampede. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The official news agency Xinhua said 25 women and 10 men were among the dead, with the ages of the first 10 identified fatalities ranging from 16 to 36.

American Andrew Shainker, an English teacher, watched from a rooftop terrace across the road as the disaster unfolded on a wide stairway leading up to a riverfront promenade.

“I witnessed lifeless bodies being carried out of a crowd one by one and dumped on the street,” he posted on Chinese messaging network Wechat.

“You could hear screams of panic. What I thought was the best view on the Bund ended up being a front row seat to an international tragedy.”

Most of the victims appeared to be Chinese, he said.

China Shanghai Stampede Source: AP/Press Association Images

“I felt I was suffocating,” wrote one poster on Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Some people with us will not come back.”

By dawn there was little evidence of the disaster beyond a lone police van and rubbish discarded by celebrants. That is typical in China for major incident scenes, which authorities are quick to clear.

Mourners laid flowers nearby.

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Fake currency

Shainker was in Bund 18, a shopping and entertainment complex where witnesses said dollar-like notes had been thrown from a window, prompting a scramble to retrieve it.

“We saw people scattering money from Bund 18,” wrote one poster, but others pointed out a wide street separates the building from the staircase where the main stampede occurred.

Fake currency has long been burned at Chinese funerals to ensure the dead have money in the afterlife, and nowadays is also frequently used as an advertising medium.

Pictures posted online showed the slips of paper were a similar size, shape and colour as US currency, but emblazoned with the logo of M18, a nightclub in the building, and stamped “New Year 2015″.

Chinese President Xi Jinping demanded an immediate investigation into the cause, Xinhua reported.

Originally published 7.09am© AFP 2014

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