Shanghai: As thousands of people thronged Shanghai's Chen Yi Square to welcome 2015, they did not know that the New Year will begin on a tragic note as the celebrations ended up in a stampede that killed dozens and injured more, Chinese state media reported.
The death toll from the stampede rose by one to 36 on Thursday and the number of injured was estimated to be 48, reports said.
Reports have it that the stampede was triggered when wads of fake money were tossed from the building of a night club alluring the celebrators to rush in hope of laying their hands on some moolah.
Images posted on the social media clearly reflected the chaos and panic at the scene of the stampede as many injured were shown receiving the first aid and also there was a thick presence of security personnel.
CCTV America, the US version of state broadcaster China Central Television, posted video of Shanghai streets after the stampede, showing piles of discarded shoes amid the debris.
One photo from the scene shared by Xinhua showed at least one person doing chest compressions on a shirtless man while several other people lay on the ground nearby, amid debris. Another photo showed the area ringed by police.
The microblog of the People's Daily, which is run by the ruling Communist Party, said that 25 women and 10 men had died, aged between 36 and 16. The injured included 3 Taiwanese and one Malaysian, it said.
The official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed witness as saying people had scrambled for coupons that looked like dollar bills that were being thrown out of a third-floor window. It said the cause of the stampede was still under investigation.
At one of the hospitals where the injured were being treated, police brought photos out of dead victims who they had not been able to identify, causing dozens of waiting relatives to crowd around the table. Not everyone could see, and young women who looked at photographs someone had taken on a cellphone broke into tears.
Xinhua said the deaths and injuries occurred at Chen Yi Square, which is in Shanghai's popular riverfront Bund area, an avenue lined with art deco buildings from the 1920s and 1930s when Shanghai was home to international banks and trading houses. The area is often jammed with spectators for major events.
On Thursday morning, dozens of police officers were in the area and tourists continued to wander by the square, a small patch of grass dominated by a statue of Chen Yi, the city's first Communist mayor.
With Agency Inputs