Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Explainer: This is the reason why people can die due to overcrowding

NEW YORK (AP) – Crowd kills at Houston music festival Add more names to the long list The number of people crushed in a major event.

A tragedy like a Friday night at the Astroland music festival has been happening for a long time. In 1979, 11 people died in a scuffle over 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 coming back into crowds after months of living together because of the pandemic, the risks are rising again.

Most major events occur without death, but experts say they see 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 any 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 the back of 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 also come from above. Lungs of people trapped in the middle.

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How does it flow?

A UK investigation into the Hillsborough tragedy found that most deaths listed a form of asphyxiation 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 survivors were described as gradually constricted, unable to move, their heads ‘locked between hands and shoulders … gasping in panic,'” the report said. “They knew that people were dying and they were helpless to defend themselves.”

What is the reason for such incidents?

“My research covers more than 100 years of disasters, and invariably they all seem to have similar characteristics,” said G. Keith Still, a visiting professor of crowd science at Suffolk University in England, an expert witness in court. As testified. mob cases

First is incident design, which includes ensuring that 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.

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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 fatal surge, but usually a catalyst is needed to move everyone in the same direction.

Everyone must be running away from a sudden downpour of rain or hail, as was the case when 93 football fans in Nepal were killed while trying to exit a closed stadium in 1988. 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 as reasons for fatal surges, where event organizers do not have robust procedures in place to report red flags or warnings.

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’s always going to 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 congestion, 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.


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