Mass Gathering – Stampede

On October 30, 2022, South Korea saw one of the most tragic nights when more than 150 people died in a stampede. A similar event was experienced in Nepal where 70 death was declared officially in 1988, during a friendly match between Nepal and Bangladesh at Dashrath rangasala. There are many mass gathering events in Nepal like Jatra, Parba, Mahotsav, Aamsabha, concert, ralley etc; some of which include activities like Chariot pulling and mass movement. This type of mass gathering events requires optimal preparedness to avoid disaster.

During big gatherings, those in the back row begin pushing those in the front row as they move forward, creating a continual force. Each person forms a barrier to the mobility of other people, and if someone falls, it is impossible for them to get back up. As a result of their fear, people start moving erratically, crowding, and making physical contact with one another. The pressures generated by crowds can exceed 4500 N (1000 lbs) which is sufficient to collapse brick walls. The majority of deaths are due to compressive asphyxiation, where people are stacked vertically or horizontally, creating compressive and tilting forces. Traumatic asphyxia is a leading cause of death and serious injury.

During the mass gathering, the nature and type of disaster are unpredictable, however, it is not the incident but the lack of preparedness that takes more life. Therefore, in large mass gathering events, avoiding fixed barricades, ensuring multiple exits, minimizing bottlenecks, limiting access to alcohol-drugs, and improving preparedness will help in minimizing casualties. The coordination mechanism with various agencies like Hospitals, Fire brigades, Police, etc must be in place. In each event, the system of incident command must be practiced, planning and coordination mechanisms must be checked with tabletop exercises.

Dr. Ashis Shrestha
NSEDRM
[email protected]

 

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