Dozens of senior citizens were injured and one was rushed to hospital after a stampede for lucky tickets and free gifts at a Taipei City Government organized event this morning, October 28.
Taipei City Social Welfare Department held an annual Senior Citizen’s Day activity and invited older residents to join the Mayor on a hike starting in Beitou District. Around 7,000 people were expected at the event, according to a press release issued by the Social Welfare Department. According to the Government Information Office Central News Agency, around 70,000 people turned up.
Event organizers neglected to arrange a queue and when they opened the free gift stand, which included lucky tickets with prizes such as Tvs and an electric scooter, a stampede erupted as people rushed forward. Some people fell and were trampled. According to United Daily News, 23 people were treated for abrasions at a first aid post set up at the event, while one 68 year-old woman was sent to hospital after suffering from dizziness and breathing difficulties.
After police and organizers stepped in to stop the disorder, the planned hike commenced.
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wenje was on hand to take flak for the debacle. As he walked with the elderly participants on the 3km route he was continuously harangued. One man called him a bastard and another told him to step down as mayor. People complained that they had turned up as early as 6:00am but couldn’t get a prize.
After arriving at the Jiantan Youth Activity Center, Mayor Ko apologized to participants, repeated his apologies to media, and later posted an apology on his Facebook page. The mayor urged participants to leave their names and phone numbers in order to receive a gift. The mayor told reporters that the organizers had committed “estimation error.”