KUALA LUMPUR • A stampede in a Malaysian market that killed two elderly women as people rushed to collect free food coupons will be investigated by police, an official said yesterday.
Almost 1,000 people descended on the indoor market in Kuala Lumpur on Monday to get their hands on 200 vouchers for a buffet meal during next month's Lunar New Year festivities.
Two women aged 85 and 78 collapsed in the crush.
Attempts by paramedics to resuscitate them failed and they died at the scene, police said.
Two other women who fainted during the rush to collect the vouchers, which were being given away by those running the market, were revived.
Such stampedes are uncommon in Malaysia, which is relatively affluent in comparison to other parts of South-east Asia.
A security guard described chaotic scenes, telling The Star newspaper people were "pushing each other" to collect the coupons, and some were screaming.
"We will investigate the cause of death and also whether the organisers had put in place sufficient safety measures," local police chief Shaharuddin Abdullah said.
The Lunar New Year is a major celebration in Malaysia, where about a quarter of the 32 million inhabitants are ethnic Chinese.