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Officials fired after China’s New Year stampede


Officials fired after China’s New Year stampede

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SHANGHAI (AP) – The Shanghai city government has fired four top officials and disciplined seven others for insufficient preparation and response to the New Year’s Eve stampede that killed 36 people.

Investigation results released by the Shanghai government Wednesday also noted that some of the officials responsible were at an opulent banquet at the public’s expense on the night of the disaster, hampering the response, violating Communist Party rules and adding to public discontent.

The investigation report blames the Huangpu District officials for insufficient precautions, poor site management and congestion at the scene of the stampede in the city’s historic riverfront Bund area.

The district’s Communist Party secretary, government chief, police chief and deputy police chief were fired and seven other officials demoted or otherwise disciplined, Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Supervision Deputy Director Wang Yu told a news conference.

The stampede took place about a half-hour before midnight on December 31 on a set of concrete steps at a riverfront area where a light show normally is shown, although the show had been cancelled. The popular avenue is lined with art deco buildings from the 1920s and ‘30s, when Shanghai was home to international banks and trading houses.

Three dozen people, including a 12-year-old boy, were tramped and asphyxiated amid the crowd of hundreds, in the worst disaster to hit one of China’s showcase cities in recent years.

Chinese relatives have questioned whether authorities adequately notified the public of the cancellation of the light show. They also have questioned whether the city government took proper emergency measures when hundreds of thousands of people still swarmed to the Bund, and whether police and medics responded effectively after the stampede.

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