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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Birmingham city council cause chaos with christmas lights switch on

From the evening mail

SIXTY people were injured, four of them seriously, as Birmingham’s Christmas Lights celebration ended in terrifying scenes of chaos last night.

Frustrated fans, angry that they could not get into a free pop concert by X Factor favourites JLS at Millennium Point, stormed security barriers and broke through police lines, throwing bottles, coins and punches.

The resulting crush trapped members of the 20,000-strong audience at the front of the stage. Youngsters had to be helped from the crowd, some passed hand-to-hand over the heads of fans.

Paramedics and first-aiders treated the walking wounded at the scene, but some victims – one of them strapped to a spinal board – had to be taken to hospital by a fleet of ambulances.

Worried council chiefs immediately pulled the plug on the event, which had run for just an hour of the planned five and a half hours, fearing that people could be crushed to death.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said at one stage: “This is Hillsborough all over again.”

The star-studded event had been billed as a family day, with a pop concert featuring 14 acts, a funfair and the switching on of the city’s Christmas Lights by chart stars Sugababes.

Instead it turned into a nightmare.

Large numbers of people were treated in a makeshift medical area, including a woman in her 30s who suffered severe crush injuries to her pelvis, shoulder and leg. Four people suffered fractured bones.

Eye-witnesses said that a disabled woman was pushed out of her wheelchair, and the chair was then trampled on by fans.


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