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.”


China raises flood alert to second highest level

Updated 12 July 2020

China raises flood alert to second highest level

  • Regional flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi has made water levels of China’s Lake Poyang surge to above 22.52 meters
BEIJING/SINGAPORE: China on Sunday raised its flood response alert to the second highest grade as downpours continued to batter regions along the Yangtze River, with the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Jiangxi among the worst hit, state media reported.
Regional flooding in the Poyang county of Jiangxi has made water levels of China’s Lake Poyang, its biggest freshwater lake, surge to above 22.52 meters, a historical high and well above the alert level of 19.50 meters.
By Saturday evening, provincial military authorities had dispatched thousands of soldiers to help bolster nearly 9 km (6 miles) of the lake’s banks to prevent them from bursting, state television said.
China has a four-tier flood control emergency response system, with level one representing the most severe.
Citing data from the Ministry of Water Resources, 212 rivers have since early July exceeded alerting levels including 19 of them rising to historical highs.
China has blamed extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change for the torrential rain that has since June hit large swathes of the country and caused over 60 billion yuan ($8.57 billion) of economic losses.