Christmas chaos as shoppers – including children – are crushed with at least five rushed to hospital after a midnight promotional balloon drop inside a Sydney Westfield caused a stampede
- Five people were taken to hospital after being caught in a stampede Monday
- Shoppers were injured during a midnight balloon drop at Westfield Parramatta
- Swarms of people rushed to get their hands on balloons containing vouchers
- Several were treated for ‘traumatic’ chest injuries, neck and back pain
Five people have been rushed to hospital after being caught up in a stampede while Christmas shopping at a Westfield in Sydney’s west.
About 150 people gathered at the shopping centre in Parramatta on Monday for a midnight balloon drop containing gift cards and vouchers promoting Westfield’s ’33 hour non-stop shop’.
But the Christmas promotion turned into chaos as swarms of people rushed to get their hands on the gold and white balloons falling from the ceiling and caused a stampede.
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Christmas chaos: Up to 150 people had gathered at Westfield in Parramatta on Monday for a midnight balloon drop offering vouchers encouraging customers to shop all night
Christmas promotion turned into a disaster as swarms of people rushed to get their hands on the gold and white balloons and caused a stampede
Five ambulance crews and an inspector responded to the incident shortly after midnight.
Twelve people were injured and treated at the scene with five, including four males and one female, being taken to hospital in Westmead, Concord and Auburn.
A number of children were crushed in the scuffle, Nine’s Today Show reported.
Three patients were treated for traumatic chest injuries, neck and back pain, as well as nausea and dizziness, NSW Ambulance services said.
‘Paramedics were responding to reports that a number of people had been injured after a balloon drop full of shopping centre discounts caused a stampede of people to hustle for the prizes,’ Inspector Phil Templeman said.
‘As a result a number of people from the crowd suffered injuries including minor aches and pains to their neck, back and ankles.
‘The two patients taken to Concord and Auburn Hospital were suffering with mild aches and pains.
Twelve people were injured and treated at the scene with five, including four males and one female, being taken to hospital
A number of shoppers were treated for ‘traumatic’ chest injuries, neck and back pain
‘It is incredibly lucky that no one was more seriously injured. As we go into the busy holiday period and many of our shopping centres become crowded with people, we urged the community to be patient and ensure the safety of themselves and those around them.’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Westfield for comment.
Footage of the stampede was shared on social media, with many criticising the organisers for not foreseeing a disastrous outcome
‘Westfield Parramatta haha absolute carnage with the balloon drop, not sure why the idiot that organised it didn’t see that happening,’ one person said.
One woman added: ‘Whoever thought that balloon release thing at Westfield Parramatta was a good idea was dumb as hell, people trampled, passed out, knocked over and hurt …for what? some dumb prize?’
Westfield Parramatta (pictured) had promoted the balloon drop on social media as part of its ’33 hour non-stop shop’, kicking off at 9am on Monday and ending at 6pm on Christmas Eve on Tuesday
‘Welcome to Parramatta! Was it worth a free gifts?’ another quipped.
In the lead up to the event, Westfield had promoted the balloon drop on social media as part of its ’33 hour non-stop shop’, kicking off at 9am on Monday and ending at 6pm on Christmas Eve on Tuesday.
But before the event could turn into a disaster, many had expressed concerns over the environmental impact the balloons would have, on the shopping centre’s Facebook page.
‘Please stop the proposed balloon drop! It’s a totally unnecessary use of a product that will end up in landfill. The whole country is trying to move away from single use items such a bags and takeaway coffee cups, and even though most balloons are latex they still take years to break down,’ one person commented on
‘Surely there has to be a more environmentally friendly way of celebrating than adding hundreds if not thousands of choking hazards to our wildlife into the environment and landfill!’ another added.