Disasters and Disaster Management – Sendai Framework, Floods, Cyclones, etc.

Why stampedes take place?   


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: What is a Stampede and cases related to Stampede

Mains level: Preventive Measures to avoid stampedes

Why in the news?

On Tuesday, July 2, a stampede during a religious gathering in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district resulted in the tragic deaths of at least 121 individuals, predominantly women.

What is a Stampede?

A stampede is an impulsive mass movement of a crowd that often results in injuries and deaths.It disrupts the orderly movement of crowds, leading to injuries and fatalities, often triggered by panic, perceived danger, or the pursuit of something gratifying.

Why do Stampedes Kill?

  • Primary Cause: Most stampede casualties result from traumatic asphyxia, where external compression of the chest or abdomen restricts breathing.
  • Other Causes: Include myocardial infarction (heart attacks), direct crushing injuries, head injuries, and neck compression.

How Does Human Psychology Lead to Stampedes?

  • Panic and lacking in Cooperation: In panic-inducing situations, cooperative behavior is initially beneficial, but if disrupted, can lead to chaotic actions like pushing and shoving.
  • Positive Wish-Fulfillment Beliefs: A collective belief, rational or irrational, can mobilize large groups into actions that may compromise individual safety.

How Does the Physical Organization of Spaces Contribute to Stampedes?

  • Factors Contributing to Stampede Risks: Lack of light, poor crowd flow management, structural collapses, blocked exits, and inadequate design of hardware (like doors and barriers) increase stampede risks.
  • Crowd Density: High density can lead to prolonged evacuation times and increased panic.

How to Better Prevent or Mitigate Stampedes?

  • Planning and Design: Ensure adequate exit points relative to crowd size, improve crowd flow management, and use technologies for real-time crowd monitoring.
  • Communication and Coordination: Effective communication between organizers and attendees is crucial for issuing warnings and managing crowd movements.

Notable Deadly Stampedes and Their Causes:

  • Moscow, Russia (1896): Rumors of souvenir shortages led to a deadly surge.
  • Allahabad, India (1954): Lack of crowd control and barriers led to a surge at the Kumbh Mela.
  • Lima, Peru (1963): Tear gas used during a football match triggered panic in enclosed spaces.
  • Wai, India (2005): Slippery steps during a pilgrimage resulted in a tragic stampede.

Way forward: 

  • Crowd Monitoring Systems: Implement technologies such as CCTV cameras, crowd density sensors, and real-time monitoring software to detect and respond to overcrowding or sudden surges in crowd movement.
  • Communication Systems: Establish robust communication networks between event organizers, security personnel, and attendees. Use public address systems and mobile alerts to convey emergency instructions and warnings promptly.
  • Emergency Response Plans: Develop and rehearse comprehensive emergency response plans that include rapid evacuation procedures, medical assistance points, and coordination with local emergency services.

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