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Four Officials Fired for Shanghai Stampede

People offer prayers during a memorial ceremony for people who were killed in a stampede incident during the new year celebrations on the Bund, in Shanghai January 6, 2015.

China has punished 11 public officials over the New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai that killed 36 people at an outdoor waterfront area.

State media announced Wednesday that four officials — the Huangpu district party chief, his deputy, the district security chief, and the deputy police chief — were fired Wednesday.

Seven other officials in tourism, public security and urban management were disciplined.

Investigation results released Wednesday blame the officials for insufficient precautions and for poor site management at the waterfront area, known as "the Bund," which is traditionally crowded on New Year's Eve.

"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 reporters Wednesday. "Preventative and response preparation was sorely lacking, early warnings on the night were weak, and the response measures were not suitable.''

Asked why more senior city officials and police were not made to take responsibility, Wang Yu, deputy head of the municipal procuratorate, said China's law on emergencies meant the Huangpu district government was mainly to blame. Other departments were only responsible for "guidance and supervision.''

Families of the victims have criticized the local government and emergency officials for being too slow to respond to the crisis, which took place shortly before midnight as people gathered at the riverfront site in central Shanghai to usher in 2015.

"At least someone has stepped up and taken responsibility,'' said Wang Jianhua, whose sister was killed in the stampede.

City authorities said they would compensate the families of the victims, most of whom were in their 20s. Each family will receve 800,000 yuan ($128,800), China's official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday.

Witnesses say the stampede broke out when people rushed to pick up fake money that had been thrown from a third-story window.

China has seen deadly stampedes before. Thirty-seven people died in 2004 when they were trampled on a bridge during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.