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Families search for loved ones as 36 killed in Shanghai stampede

Thirty-six people have been killed in a stampede during New Year celebrations in Shanghai's historic waterfront area.

People unable to contact friends and relatives streamed into hospitals yesterday, anxious for information after the worst disaster to hit one of China's showcase cities in recent years.

The Shanghai government said 47 other people needed hospital treatment, including 13 who were seriously injured, after the chaos about half an hour before midnight.

The deaths happened in Chen Yi Square in Shanghai's popular riverfront Bund area, an avenue lined with Art Deco buildings from the 1920s and 30s when Shanghai was home to international banks and trading houses. The area is often jammed with people during major events.

At one of the hospitals where the injured were being treated, police brought out photos of unidentified dead victims, causing dozens of waiting relatives to crowd around. Not everyone could see, and young women who looked at the photos broke into tears when they recognised someone.

A woman with the surname Yin was caught with her 12-year-old son in the middle of crowds pushing up and down steps leading from the square. "People started to fall down, row by row," she said.

When her son was finally brought to safety, he had shoe prints over his clothes, "his forehead was bruised, he had two deep creased scars on his neck, and his mouth and nose were bleeding", she said.

Meanwhile, five people were killed and dozens injured in fireworks accidents across Europe. Danish police said three people were killed in two fireworks accidents in the north of the country. Two others were injured.

German police said a 19-year-old man was killed in Saxony when he tried to ignite unauthorised firecrackers. Another man was severely injured in the accident.

An 18-year-old man was killed in northern Germany when he was hit on the head by a firecracker. A nine-year-old boy in Hesse suffered a neck injury when a man tried to fire an illumination rocket with a gun, while a 23-year-old man in Saxony-Anhalt lost four fingers when a firecracker exploded in his hands.

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