Trends in crowd accidents based on an analysis of press reports

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Abstract

Crowd accidents – defined as situations where mass gatherings of people lead to deaths or injuries – have become a frequent occurrence on a global scale. Given the recurring nature of these accidents, it is essential that their characteristics are analyzed. To this end, an important step would be documenting these records. Here, a database of crowd accidents is developed for the period of 1900–2019 through a comprehensive investigation of the press and media reports. The analyses focus mainly on temporal trends of their frequency and injury/casualty in each accident, as well as their geographical distribution and classification based on the purpose of gathering. Results show that the frequency of crowd accidents has been unambiguously on the rise over the last 120 years. Also, there was no indication that larger crowd sizes increase the risk of injury or death per person. In fact, the opposite was the case, although a causal relation between crowd size and risk of injury/death is impossible to establish. Over time, the share of sport events in crowd accidents has declined, and instead, religious gatherings have become more notably present in the statistics. An interesting observation is the association of accident rates to the income level of the countries where they happen, with low-and-middle-income countries being more represented in the records. India and (to a lesser extent) West Africa, in particular, appear to be hot spots for crowd accidents. Finally, it is argued that the exponential increase in crowd accidents of the last century was only partially real, with technology also playing a role in making information more accessible for recent accidents. After the internet (and SNS) became widespread, the trend for reported crowd accidents does not show anymore an exponential increase although it is difficult to conclude whether their frequency is stable or not. The insights obtained from this study can pave the way for developing diagnostic knowledge and raising awareness about the ubiquity of crowd accidents.

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APA

Feliciani, C., Corbetta, A., Haghani, M., & Nishinari, K. (2023). Trends in crowd accidents based on an analysis of press reports. Safety Science, 164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2023.106174

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