Shanghai stampede: Narrow escape for Singaporeans

Singaporean Chan U-Gene (foreground, centre), a former ST journalist who is doing an internship in Shanghai, was partying with friends from 10pm to 2am at the waterfront Chen Yi Square along the historic Shanghai Bund, unaware of the incident. He say
Singaporean Chan U-Gene (foreground, centre), a former ST journalist who is doing an internship in Shanghai, was partying with friends from 10pm to 2am at the waterfront Chen Yi Square along the historic Shanghai Bund, unaware of the incident. He says he saw four people being carried away by police but thought they had merely fainted. Relatives of a victim caught in the stampede waiting for news of their loved ones yesterday at a hospital, where people injured in the incident were being treated.PHOTO: CHAN U-GENE PHOTO: REUTERS
Singaporean Chan U-Gene (foreground, centre), a former ST journalist who is doing an internship in Shanghai, was partying with friends from 10pm to 2am at the waterfront Chen Yi Square along the historic Shanghai Bund, unaware of the incident. He say
Singaporean Chan U-Gene (foreground, centre), a former ST journalist who is doing an internship in Shanghai, was partying with friends from 10pm to 2am at the waterfront Chen Yi Square along the historic Shanghai Bund, unaware of the incident. He says he saw four people being carried away by police but thought they had merely fainted. Relatives of a victim caught in the stampede waiting for news of their loved ones yesterday at a hospital, where people injured in the incident were being treated.PHOTO: CHAN U-GENE PHOTO: REUTERS

One left minutes before stampede, another was at square but unhurt

Singaporean Jacqueline Ho escaped a deadly stampede on her birthday on New Year's Eve when she decided not to join in a countdown party in Chinese metropolis Shanghai. The crush killed at least 36 people and injured 47 others.

She and her husband were around the waterfront Chen Yi Square along the historic Shanghai Bund at 11.30pm, just five minutes before tragedy struck among the revellers gathered there to welcome 2015.

The couple, who walked towards the square after having dinner nearby, contemplated joining in the fun but decided against it as they were too tired.

"We were shocked when we read the news the next morning that something like this had happened just five minutes after we left, especially as the crowd wasn't unruly.

"I feel sad for the victims, but I'm relieved that we had a (narrow) escape," Ms Ho, who turned 32 on Wednesday and works in the Shanghai banking industry, told The Straits Times.

Many Chinese also woke up in shock on New Year's Day to tragic news of the stampede, as top Chinese leaders ordered officials to provide assistance and investigate the causes thoroughly.

Another Singaporean, Mr Chan U-Gene, a former journalist with The Straits Times, was revelling with several friends from 10pm to 2am at the square, unaware of the incident.

"It was quite chaotic as the place was extremely packed. Basically, it was shoulder to shoulder and I could walk only where the crowds pushed me along," recounted Mr Chan, who is doing an internship in Shanghai as part of a master's programme at the Tsinghua University in Beijing.

At one point, he saw some people around him falling down and shouting for others to give them more room.

He also saw four people being carried away by police officers but thought they had merely fainted.

With the mood among the revellers staying festive throughout the night before he left, he had no clue of the fatal stampede until he read the news reports yesterday morning.

"To be honest, I felt safe even though it was packed. So, it still feels a bit surreal knowing what had happened," he said.

A spokesman for the Singapore Foreign Affairs Ministry told The Straits Times yesterday the consulate-general in Shanghai is monitoring the situation and that there have been no reports of any Singaporean involved in the incident.

It added that Singaporeans in Shanghai who require consular assistance can contact the Singapore Consulate-General in Shanghai on +86-13801949439 or Ministry of Foreign Affairs (24 hours) duty office on +65-6379-8800.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg