NEW YORK (AP) – The mob death at a Houston music festival adds to the long list of people who were crushed at a major event.
A tragedy like a Friday night at the Astroworld Music Festival has been happening for a long time. In 1979, 11 people died in a scuffle for entering The Who’s concert in Cincinnati, Ohio. At Hillsborough Football Stadium in England, a human crush caused nearly 100 deaths in 1989. In 2015, based on an Associated Press count of media reports and officials’ comments, the collision of two mobs on the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia resulted in more than 2,400 deaths.
Now that more people are stepping out of their homes and back into crowds after months of cohabitation due to the pandemic, the risks are rising again.
Of course, most major events occur without death, but experts say they tend to be common symptoms within tragedies. Here’s how they happen:
How are people dying in these incidents?
They are often squeezed so hard that they cannot get oxygen. It is usually not because they are being trampled upon.
When the rush rises, the force can be strong enough to bend the steel. It can also kill people from two directions: one from behind the crowd and the other in front of the crowd that is trying to escape. If some people have fallen, causing a pile up, pressure can come from above as well. Lungs of people trapped in the middle.
What’s it like to get carried away?
A UK investigation into the Hillsborough tragedy found that most deaths listed a form of asphyxia as the underlying cause. Other listed causes include “inhalation of stomach contents”.
The deaths occurred as more than 50,000 fans flocked to the stadium for a football match on a hot, sunny day. Some of them were packed into a tunnel and were being pressed into the perimeter fence so hard that their faces were distorted by the net, the investigation found.
The report said, “The survivors were described as slowly constricted, unable to move, their heads ‘locked between hands and shoulders…” They knew that people were dying and that they had to fend for themselves. are helpless.”
What is the reason for such incidents?
“My research covers disasters spanning over 100 years, and invariably they all seem to have similar characteristics,” said G. Keith Still, a visiting professor of crowd science at Suffolk University in England, as an expert witness in court. has testified. mob cases
The first is to design the incident, including ensuring that the crowd density does not exceed guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association and others. This includes having enough space for everyone and enough space for people to move around.
Some places will take precautions when they know that an event is coming to a particularly high-energy crowd. Still pointed out how some would set up pens around the steps to break up large crowds into smaller groups. It can also allow way for security officers or for emergency exits.
What are the other reasons?
The density of the crowd may be the single most important factor in a lethal surge, but usually a catalyst is needed to move everyone in the same direction.
A sudden downpour of rain or hail can send everyone running, as was the case when 93 football fans in Nepal were killed in 1988 while trying to exit a closed stadium. Or, in an instance that is still said to be much more common in the United States than in other countries, someone shouts, “He has a gun!”
The bounce doesn’t always happen because people are running away from something. Sometimes they are caused by the crowd moving towards something, such as a performer on stage, before hitting an obstacle.
Still poor crowd-management systems have been cited, where event organizers do not have robust procedures in place to report red flags or warnings, among the reasons for causing fatal surges.
How has the pandemic affected things?
Steve Allen of Crowd Safety, a UK-based consultancy engaged in major events around the world, said it is always important to monitor the crowd, but especially now that the size of events is increasing following the pandemic lockdown. Is.
“As soon as you add people to the mix, there will always be risk,” he said of the crowd.
He recommends that events train crowd spotters with noise-canceling headsets who are in direct communication with anyone who is in close proximity to the performer who can temporarily stop the event if a life-threatening situation occurs. ready to stop. It could be crowding, structural collapse, fire or anything else.
Allen said that he has personally stopped around 25 performances by the likes of Oasis, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eminem.
Why are people not calling it a stampede?
Professionals do not use the words “stampede” or “panic” to describe such scenarios because it can blame the deaths of people in a crowd. Instead, they often point out event organizers for failing to provide a safe environment.
“Security has no benefit,” Still said, “so it’s the last thing in the budget.”
Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.