Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong said the city will strengthen crowd control measures at key venues and enhance contingency planning for large-scale activities after a deadly New Year’s Eve stampede claimed 36 lives and injured 49.
The city will also adopt a scientific approach to safety, he said.
“We must make safety the baseline for all our efforts, improve awareness and protect the city with all our strength,” Yang said at the annual meeting of the Shanghai People’s Congress, which started on Jan 25.
Shanghai’s urban safety situation is complex, Yang said, and accidents happen from time to time. But the New Year’s Eve stampede had particularly grave consequences.
On Dec 31, New Year’s revelers, many of them young women, flocked to Shanghai’s historic area, known as the Bund, to celebrate. Heavy crowds came in waves, but measures to manage them were lacking. A stampede happened, and many people were trampled in the ensuing panic.
“This was a very severe public security incident that harmed both the victims and their families. It also caused severe damage to the city. The lesson is extremely painful,” Yang said.
He said the government felt sad and blamed itself for the stampede. He added that the city must not forget the costly lesson learned from it.
Yang said the incident exposed critical deficiencies in the city’s approach to safety management, which has been lax. Some officials lack awareness of public safety risks, and the city’s ability to respond in a moment of crisis needs to improve, he said.
Delegate Xu Liping said urban safety management requires a strict division of duties.
There should be “complete clarity about who is responsible for what”, Xu said. “The liabilities for each manager and each staff member in each link of the safety management chain should be clear. There should be zero tolerance for risk.”
She also said the city should make use of scientific innovations in the field of safety, and should improve risk-detection and handling with more high-tech measures.
In the report, Yang also said the city will evaluate the liability of government bodies and enterprises. Those responsible for accidents should be held accountable, he said.
Yang said the city will quicken the pace of improving safety by raising standards, creating a safety management team and using technology. Beyond that, he pledged to carry out a public education campaign to improve residents’ safety awareness and self-help ability in emergencies.