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11 Officials Punished over Shanghai Stampede
   2015-01-21 15:13:05    Xinhua      Web Editor: Guo

Shanghai authorities announce the punishment of 11 officials over the deadly New Year's Eve stampede on January 21, 2015. [Photo: CFP]

Eleven officials in Shanghai were punished over the New Year's Eve stampede which left 36 people dead and 49 injured.

Four officials -- Zhou Wei, Communist Party chief of Huangpu District, his deputy Peng Song, also district governor, Zhou Zheng, deputy district governor and Huangpu's public security chief and Chen Qi, deputy police chief of the district, were removed from their posts, according to the decision of Shanghai municipal authorities.

Seven other officials in tourism, public security and urban management, received disciplinary punishments, authorities announced Wednesday at a press conference.

Zhou Wei and Peng Song were taking a midnight snack with several other officials in a restaurant near the stampede site at the invitation of a local state-owned investment company during the time of the stampede. Zhou rushed to the scene after the incident occurred.

Zhou and Peng, with the other eight diners, also violated the frugality campaign initiated by the central leadership, according to the Shanghai CPC Discipline Inspection Commission.

At the press conference, Zhou Bo, vice mayor of Shanghai, expressed deep condolences for those affected by the incident and apologized to stampede victims and their families on behalf of the municipal Communist Party of China committee and government.

"We feel extremely heart-stricken, guilty and very remorseful,"said Zhou, also deputy head of a joint government investigation team for the stampede.

The deadly stampede happened at 11:35 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2014, when people assembled on Shanghai's historic riverfront walk, the Bund, to usher in the new year.

It was lack of public security that caused heavy casualties and serious consequences, said an investigation report released at the conference. "Inadequate prevention and preparation for the mass activity and poor on-site management" should be blamed.

No risk assessment was made for the change of the New Year countdown venue, it added.

The district tourism bureau released information on the New Year countdown activity on Dec. 30 and "the publicity of the event was late and insufficient", the report said.

Security was heavily understaffed with only about 500 police and urban management personnel deployed in the area, whereas about 310,000 people were in the Bund scenic area when the stampede occurred, according to the investigation.

Forty-six of the injured in the stampede have been discharged and three remain in hospital.

Shanghai planned 29 mass activities during the upcoming traditional Spring Festival. Twenty-four of them will be organized but security measures must be well prepared, said Vice Mayor Zhou Bo.

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