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More than 40 people were also wounded as hundreds of thousands of revellers crammed into Shanghai’s popular riverfront Bund area for the annual light show.
The stampede began at around 11:35pm yesterday at Chen Yi Square.
Witnesses said money had been thrown from the balcony of a nearby nightclub which caused a frenzy of spectators rushing to grab it.
George Chen, a reporter at the South China Morning Post, said friends had been at the event and had seen people throwing dollar bills from the upscale Bund 18 club.
The Bund, renowned for its pre-1949 architecture, is the former financial district of China’s commercial hub and now a popular tourist destination, packed with high-end restaurants and expensive boutiques.
It is also notorious for being overcrowded with spectators during major events.
One photo from the scene showed at least one person doing chest compressions on a shirtless man while several other people lay on the ground nearby, amid debris. Another showed people receiving first aid on the road and large numbers of police cordoning off the area.
Rescue workers tried to resuscitate victims lying on the pavement while ambulances waited nearby.
Mr Chen posted to Twitter that the stampede occurred right before midnight.
“As a native of Shanghai, I believe this is the worst (very rare) stampede incident in Shanghai history in recent decades. Shock!!”
Chinese state media Xinhua said many of the injured were students. Authorities were investigating the cause of the stampede.
Injured people were sent to No. 1 People’s Hospital of Shanghai, Changzheng hospital, Ruijin Hospital and Huangpu Central Hospital. Shanghai Communist Party Secretary Han Zheng and Mayor Yang Xiong went to hospitals to visit injured people.
A laser countdown display that last year drew 300,000 to the Bund, had been cancelled this year because of the crowds.
The number caused chaos in the city when a lack of adequate public transport forced revellers to walk home.
It is believed officials called off the countdown this year believing it would dissuade some from attending.
However the famed light show continued as planned, with a further private light display held in the Waitanyuan area at the intersection of the Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River.
Shanghai’s historic Bund riverfront runs along an area of often narrow streets amid restored old buildings, shops and tourist attractions.
The China Daily newspaper in February reported that the city’s population was more than 24 million at the end of 2013.
Most large gatherings in China are carefully controlled by authorities but the country has seen other incidents in which overcrowding has caused panic and deaths.
Last year, 14 people – some of them children – were killed and 10 injured in a stampede that broke out as food was being distributed at a mosque in China’s Ningxia region.
Also last year, six students were killed in a stampede at a primary school in Kunming city in the southwest after the accidental blocking of a stairway corridor.
SOURCE: The Telegraph