SHANGHAI — China has punished 11 Shanghai officials for failing to prevent a New Year's Eve stampede that killed 36 people, injured dozens and dented the image of the country's most cosmopolitan city.
Municipal officials involved in the investigation blamed the stampede on government and Communist Party leaders from the Huangpu District, home to the riverfront Bund area where the disaster happened.
"The thinking of the Huangpu District government and related department heads was paralyzed, with a serious lack of understanding of guarding against public security risks," Xiong Xinguang, head of the municipal emergency committee and part of the investigation team, told a news conference on Wednesday.
"Preventative and response preparation was sorely lacking, early warnings on the night were weak, and the response measures were not suitable," Xiong said.
City authorities also said they would compensate the families of the victims, most of whom were in their 20s. Each family would receive 800,000 yuan ($128,800), China's official news agency Xinhua said late on Wednesday.
Another 49 people were injured, with three still in the hospital.
Huangpu's party leader, as well as the district chief, police chief and deputy police chief, were stripped of their party posts and fired, said Wang Yu, deputy head of the municipal procuratorate. Another seven officials - including two city police officers - were disciplined.
The conclusion of the investigation brought some relief to mourning relatives, who had criticized the Shanghai government for reacting slowly, withholding information and pressuring family members not to talk the media.
"At least someone has stepped up and taken responsibility," said Wang Jianhua, whose sister was killed in the stampede.
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