Festivals and concerts are popular with travellers, giving them motivation to visit a destination and drawing huge crowds. But sometimes a crowd becomes a crush and your life is under threat.
In June 2017 a firecracker sparked a panic in Turin's main square as 30,000 fans watched Juventus play a European Champions soccer match. The crush that followed caused more than 1,500 injuries.
There were two crowd crush/stampedes in 2010 that claimed more than 350 lives. Both happened at popular 'fun' attractions where something went tragically wrong:
Water Festival, Cambodia, November 2010 – 345 dead over 300 injured.
Love Parade, Germany, July 2010 – 21 dead, 500 injured.
These tragedies have a few elements in common: both events had a narrow, single point of entry and exit. In Germany, it was a tunnel. In Cambodia, a bridge. Both events had crowds of over a million.
But there are differences, too. Paul Wertheimer, one of the world's experts on crowd control, runs the consultancy Crowd Management Strategies and writes extensively on crowd dynamics on his www.crowdsafe.com website.
Paul insists what happened in Germany was not a stampede. "A stampede is when people or animals are fleeing something of perceived danger. They're running from something that scares them. This was a crowd craze… a movement of people towards something of perceived value. Like getting into the place."
Paul says the critical error with Love Parade was underestimating the crowd size. Organisers had planned for 250,000 participants, 1.4 million turned up, leaving security, medical services, and infrastructure woefully inadequate.
"There's always this perception that if people had just acted rationally they wouldn't have been crushed to death. Panic didn't cause this, the failure to manage this event caused this."
Initial reports from Phnom Penh indicate this tragedy was a genuine stampede. The annual Water Festival marks the end of the rainy season. A million people had come to the capital for the festivities. Most were on an island in the Mekong River when something spooked them.
Some say a large group fainted in the crowd crush. Other reports say an electrocution sparked the panic. Whatever the cause, suddenly a massive crowd was attempting to cross one small suspension bridge.
A stampede or a crush, whatever it is, there are a few tips for increasing your chances of survival.
Paul Wertheimer says you should take a moment to make a mental note of all the exits in a venue as soon as you arrive. The natural urge is to use the same entry when you exit, not because it's safer, but it's familiar. Paul says there may be an alternative exit being used by fewer people that will get you out more quickly, very handy if you already know where it is.
"When you start to feel uncomfortable in a crowd, this is the time to start looking at leaving. This is very difficult, because if you've come a long distance, or you've waited for a long time, for example in front of a stage, you don't want to leave. "
Many people leave that decision until it's too late, and find they are now trapped in a large, swaying and shuffling crowd. Here are Paul's survival tips:
Paul has developed a technique for working your way out of a crush, he calls it the accordion method.
"After you're pushed forward, like in a wave there's a lull. In that lull is your chance to move, and the way you move is on a diagonal, between pockets of people. There's always space between people. A couple of steps sideways, another wave surge, then another couple of steps in the next lull. You work your way out that way till you get to the periphery."
But, and it's a big, nasty, but: "After a point you can't get out, it doesn't matter how big you are, how strong you are it doesn't even matter if you're a crowd safety expert. After a certain point you're trapped." Says Paul.
And that's the tragedy.
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