Death during stampede
Deaths from human crushes are caused primarily by compressive asphyxiation — people are unable to expand their rib cage to breathe due to pressure on all sides.
Trampling is really a lesser killer.
This is due to crowd crush, or crowd collapse. In a crowd crush, people are subjected to compressive forces by being pushed from all sides, or against a barrier such as a wall, with nowhere to move into.
In a progressive crowd collapse one person falls, creating a space in the crowd into which others fall, creating an even larger hole. Those who have fallen are squashed by the weight of many people on the top of them, vertical stacking.
Compression in either case is often fatal. A crush is typical of a crowd pushed into a confined area; a progressive crowd collapse may occur in a large crowd moving steadily forward along a confined route.
Enochlophobia, or the fear of crowds, is a very real phobia. And when you’re in the middle of a panicked mob swarming to an exit, that fear seems entirely rational.
There has been a steady rise in such crushes since the 1990s. On average, these claim the lives of 380 people every year. The most recent was on April 29, 2021, in Meron, Israel: 45 people were crushed to death and more than 150 injured at the Lag B’Omer religious festival.
In a tragic human stampede occurred during a festival in Phnom Penh in 2010 when thousands attempted to cross the suspension bridge that served as the festival’s primary entry. The bridge began to sway under the excessive weight, panic set in, and a rush to get off the bridge began. 347 people died in the resulting crush of bodies.
Stampede related incidences are common in India, and most of these are associated with religious congregations.
11 persons were killed on August 10, 2015 in the stampede in Vaidhyanath temple at Devadhar in Jharkhand.
29 persons were killed on the first day of Godavari Maha Pushkarulu at Rajamundari on July 14, 2015.
32 persons were killed in another incidence during Dushehara celebration at Garhi Maidan in Patna on October 3, 2014.
On October 13, 2013 Mata Mandir stampede during Navaratra at Ratnagarh in Madhya Pradesh killed 115 persons.
102 persons were killed on January 15, 2011 in Shabarimala temple stampede in Kerala.
71 persons were killed in the stampede following collapse of the main gate of Ram – Janki temple at Kunda on March 4, 2010.
Bomb scare on the first day of Navaratra at Chamunda Devi temple in Mehrangarh Fort killed 224 persons on September 30, 2008.
162 persons were killed in landslide induced stampede on August 3, 2008 at Naina Devi temple in Himachal Pradesh.
All these tragedies had a few elements in common; narrow, single point of entry and exit accompanied by the presence of large crowd. Though commonly identified as being stampede most of these incidences were not strictly stampede.
- Panic is a specific situation in which a crowd rushes in the same direction to escape a real or suspected danger, and this often results in a major disaster. Examples of this include Madhya Pradesh stampede in India (2013), the Place de la République in Paris (2015), the Falls Festival in Victoria, Australia (2016), the Piazza San Carlo in Turin (2017), and the Global Citizen Festival in New York City (2018).
- Remember that stampedes happen precisely because people panicked, which is why you should not.
- Emergency exit processes not being clear, and clean from the outset.
- Emergency exit processes not in place, which unleash chaos.
- Confusion created by lack of guidance, information, and direction to a safe haven triggers self-preservation defences, panic, and put people in a stampede to compete against each other for survival.
- Forces generated by panicked persons pushing each other in a large crowd.
- People get injured, or fall off each other as the movement is uncoordinated, and tis creates obstacles for the movement of others.
- Fallen person dies due to intense compression of lungs, and subsequent suffocation.
- Structural collapse of temporary structures, steep stairs, narrow exists because of illegal constructions, unauthorised parking, and hawkers add to the confusion, and often result in stampede.
- Fire, usually from the makeshift kitchens in the pandal, inappropriate use of firecrackers, and electrical short circuit often result in stampede.
- Underestimating the size of crowd, overselling of the tickets, lack of coordination with authorities, panicking by rumours, rush to get freebies, or celebrity autograph are other causes of stampede.
- Anxiety caused by prolonged waiting, and lack of information.
- Lacking provisions for masses to relax, and keep themselves occupied.