Five hospitalized after stampede at Australian shopping center

Christmas shoppers were crushed in a midnight balloon drop of gift vouchers at a Sydney suburban shopping center. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 24 December 2019

Five hospitalized after stampede at Australian shopping center

  • Footage showed people at the Westfield Parramatta shopping center jostling for balloons containing gift cards
  • Scenter Group, which owns the Westfield chain in Australia, said that it was investigating the incident

Five people were hospitalized after Christmas shoppers were crushed in a midnight balloon drop of gift vouchers at a Sydney suburban shopping center.
Video footage showed people at the Westfield Parramatta shopping center jostling for the gold, silver and white balloons containing the gift cards. As the crowd surged, shoppers were sent sprawling, including one person dressed as Santa Claus.
Jonathan Nott, who took the footage, said he was worried someone would get hurt as the crowd gathered.
“It did not look like a very safe area for a large crowd to scramble for balloons.”
Paramedics called to the scene treated 12 people. Four men and one woman were taken to hospital.
“Three of the transported patients had more serious issues including traumatic chest injuries, neck and back pain as well as nausea and dizziness,” NSW Ambulance Inspector Phil Templeman said in a statement.
Scenter Group, which owns the Westfield chain in Australia, said that it was investigating the incident.
“The safety of our customers, retail partners and people is our priority,” a spokeswoman said.
“Our team acted swiftly to support our customers, contact emergency services and make the area safe. Our team are continuing to speak with affected customers directly.”


Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

Updated 30 May 2020

Minneapolis braces for more riots, arson following police killing of Afro-American George Floyd

CHICAGO: Minneapolis exploded into riots and arson this week after an African-American suspected of handling counterfeit money was killed on Monday during his arrest by two city police officers.

Videos on social media showed an officer placing his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed and being restrained on the street by the kerb. The 46-year-old said that he could not breathe, but police insisted that Floyd was “resisting arrest” and had to be forcibly restrained.

The officer who was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck was arrested on Friday and charged with murder.

Floyd was pronounced dead at the scene and his family immediately called for an independent probe.

His family turned to civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said the family’s first concern was to seek an autopsy independent of the police because of a lack of trust in law enforcement and to give their deceased family member a proper funeral.

“Is it two justice systems in America?” Crump said as he addressed the media. “One for black America and one for white America? We can’t have that. We have to have equal justice for the United States of America and that’s what I think the protesters are crying out for.”

Protests spread across the country and turned violent as arson destroyed property, including the police station where the police officers were assigned.

President Donald Trump denounced the rioters as “thugs” and warned that he might send in the military “to take control.” 

Minneapolis Police handed the investigation into Floyd’s death to the FBI and US Justice Department on Thursday night. Officials from the FBI and US Justice Department promised that the probe would be “robust and meticulous.”

The media’s role in the protests came sharply into focus when, early on Friday, CNN’s Omar Jimenez was arrested along with his TV crew.

CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota, who looked on as her colleague was being arrested, told viewers: “If you are just tuning in you are watching our correspondent Omar Jimenez being arrested by state police in Minnesota. We are not sure why our correspondent is being arrested.”