Shanghai raises security on anniversary of deadly New Year's stampede

 The night skyline of the Bund in Shanghai.
The night skyline of the Bund in Shanghai.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

SHANGHAI (AFP) - China's commercial hub Shanghai stepped up security along its famed waterfront on Thursday (Dec 31), seeking to prevent the crowds that caused a crush which killed 36 people on New Year's Eve a year ago.

Revellers, many of them young women, were trampled to death last New Year's Eve after flocking to the historic riverfront, known as the Bund, which is a popular tourist destination.

Another 49 were injured in the incident, which tarnished Shanghai's reputation as China's most modern city.

No official commemoration of the tragedy is planned and no New Year-related events will be held on the Bund, Shanghai government officials said.

The authorities set up crowd barriers in the area on Thursday, and the police said they would disperse and block people from entering should numbers swell.

Police and security guards patrolled the Bund, with several official vehicles parked along the road nearby including a mobile command centre.

Relatives of the victims said the memory of the disaster was too painful to visit the Bund on the one-year anniversary.

"I don't want to go to that place again," Ms Fan Ping, wife of victim Du Shuanghua, told AFP. "I will use my own way to remember him."

Shanghai compensated each family of the victims 800,000 yuan (S$174,000) and punished 11 government officials, including removing both the head and the Communist Party chief of the district where the accident occurred.

But no higher level officials were implicated and no criminal proceedings were announced.

On Thursday, tourists snapped photos under hazy skies on the Bund near where the accident took place, as police in golf carts zipped along.

"Shanghai is fun, Shanghai is safe," said one tourist from Henan province, who declined to give her name. "We don't think about what happened."

The Shanghai stampede started a year of deadly accidents in China. In June, the sinking of a cruise ship on the Yangtze River due to a freak storm killed 442 people.

An industrial explosion in the northern port city of Tianjin in August killed nearly 200. And more than 70 people are still missing following a landslide in the southern city of Shenzhen earlier in December that occurred despite multiple warnings.

Mr Cai Jinjin, whose cousin Qi Xiaoyan died in the Shanghai crush, told Agence France-Presse: "We no longer wish to mention this again."