3 tragedies in Asia take hundreds of lives in 1 month


More than 400 folks died in October in a collection of crowd-related disasters in Asia, when a bridge filled with revellers collapsed in India, Halloween partiers had been crushed in South Korea’s capital, and spectators fled a stadium in Indonesia after police fired tear gasoline.

The dynamics in the three conditions had been distinct, although specialists say poor planning and crowd administration contributed to the disasters in Indonesia and South Korea. In India, authorities are investigating whether or not the just lately repaired bridge was correctly inspected.


In Seoul, 156 folks died when greater than 100,000 flocked to the favored nightlife district of Itaewon on Saturday for Halloween celebrations, the primary because the nation’s strict COVID-19 restrictions had been lifted.

The slender, sloping alleys of the district turned clogged with folks, resulting in what specialists name “crowd turbulence.” That’s when individuals are so packed collectively that they do not have full management over their actions, and the gang strikes as a steady physique.

“It would not require anyone to misbehave, would not require anyone to aggressively or deliberately push,” mentioned Milad Haghani, a researcher at Australia’s University of New South Wales, Sydney.

It is properly documented that when crowd densities attain the degrees estimated on the Itaewon celebration, folks will fall, triggering a domino impact, mentioned Haghani, who has studied greater than 275 such crowd-related tragedies relationship again to 1902.

But it is also preventable, he mentioned.

Seoul authorities have been criticized for having 137 officers available Saturday to take care of such a big crowd. Officials usually dispatch many extra police to manage protests in the capital.

Yoon Hee Keun, commissioner common of the Korean National Police Agency, advised a televised information convention Tuesday that he felt a “heavy accountability” for the loss of life.

By previous celebrations, and factoring in the top of COVID-19 restrictions, authorities might have simply anticipated massive crowds, Haghani mentioned.

More essential than further police, South Korean authorities might have employed crowd-control specialists to watch the movement of folks and prevented the world from getting as packed because it did, he mentioned.

Lessons from well-studied tragedies like Germany’s 2010 Love Parade catastrophe, the place 21 folks died making an attempt to exit an space by a bottleneck, make crowd turbulence conditions predictable when specialists are watching, he mentioned.

“It is basically disappointing to see that regardless of all of the professional expertise, all of the research, all of the conclusions and all the things that was achieved, it occurred once more in one other nation, in one other location, and it truly resulted in many extra folks dying,” mentioned Haghani.


Indonesia continues to be investigating the Oct. 1 tragedy at a soccer stadium, in which 135 folks died, together with dozens of kids. Police fired tear gasoline into the stadium, the place some gates had been locked, after some the gang of 42,000 spilled onto the sphere, sending them dashing towards the exits and inflicting a crush.

Soehatman Ramli, chairman of (*3*) World Safety Organization, advised The Associated Press that the case confirmed what can happen with out a correct threat administration plan and programs of motion in case of emergency.

“These plans ought to embody evacuation routes and crowd administration for controlling panic conditions,” Ramli mentioned.

Already, police have mentioned that Kanjuruhan stadium in Malang metropolis didn’t have a correct working certificates and that felony costs can be introduced towards six folks for negligence, together with the three law enforcement officials who allowed or ordered officers to make use of tear gasoline.

Authorities have eliminated the police chiefs of East Java province and Malang district and suspended different officers over violations of skilled ethics.

A fact-finding crew arrange by President Joko Widodo discovered that the tear gasoline was the principle trigger of the tragedy – a conclusion Haghani mentioned was not stunning.

“Experience has proven that tear gasoline in a sports activities stadium is a recipe for catastrophe, in that it agitates the crowds, it creates a fight-back tendency in the gang, and extra aggressive behaviour,” he mentioned.


After the weekend collapse of a newly repaired suspension bridge in India’s Gujarat state in which 134 folks died, authorities have introduced the arrest of 9 folks, together with managers of the bridge’s operator.

The 143-year-old bridge reopened 4 days earlier than Sunday’s collapse underneath the burden of hundreds of individuals who had been celebrating throughout the Hindu competition season.

A safety video of the catastrophe confirmed it shaking violently and other people making an attempt to carry on to its cables and steel fencing earlier than the aluminum walkway gave out and crashed into the river.

The bridge cut up in the center with its walkway hanging down and its cables snapped.

(*1*) are nonetheless underway, however an area official advised the Indian Express newspaper that the corporate reopened the bridge with out first acquiring a “health certificates.”


All three October disasters function reminders of the variability of methods in which authorities are answerable for making certain public security, mentioned Dirk Helbing, a professor of computational social science on the ETH Zurich college who research crowd dynamics.

“In the previous a long time, science has supplied many new insights and instruments to contribute to crowd security and administration,” he mentioned. “I hope this data will unfold shortly and thereby assist to keep away from disasters in the long run.”


Associated Press author Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this story.


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