These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy

Shannon Quinn - December 22, 2022

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
The massive pile of people trying to run in Heysei stadium. Credit: Football Pink

Heysei Stadium Disaster

On May 29, 1985, soccer fans were gathered at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels to watch Liverpool versus Juventus. Before the game started, a group of drunk Liverpool fans began to rush the fence that separated them from the Juventus fans. The drunken fans wanted to start a riot, which caused many of the innocent Juventus fans to run in the opposite direction. This pressed them up against a concrete wall. The pressure of the crowd was so strong, it actually caused the wall to collapse, and many people escaped. A total of 39 people tragically passed, and over 600 were injured. Most of the victims were Italian Juventus fans. When the dust settled, many of the instigators of the riot were arrested, and 14 of those Liverpool fans were convicted of manslaughter. The incident has been called “the darkest hour in the history of the UEFA competitions”.

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
The Memorial to those who perished in the disaster at Hillsborough Stadium. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hillsborough Disaster

On April 15, 1989, football clubs Liverpool and Nottingham Forest were playing against one another at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Before the game started, there was a huge crowd waiting outside of the turnstiles to get into the stadium. A police officer named David Duckenfield was trying to ease the crowd, so he ordered exit gate C to open. This accidentally had the opposite effect, because people began to crowd towards gate C, and it resulted in the human crush. A total of 97 fatalities and 766 injuries means that the Hillsborough Disaster has the highest death toll in British sporting history. This was considered an “accidental death”, but the families of the victims spent the next few decades trying to prosecute those responsible. In June 2017, six people were charged with offenses including manslaughter and misconduct.

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
Pilgrims traveling to Mecca. Business Insider.

1990 Mecca Tunnel Tragedy

On July 3, 1990, a total of 1,426 people were suffocated and trampled in a tunnel near Mecca during the annual Muslim pilgrimage known as the Hajj. There is a tunnel called Al-Ma’aisim that is specifically used as a pedestrian walkway leading out of Mecca, heading towards Mina. Thousands of people were walking towards the Stoning of the Devil ritual, which was supposed to begin at 10AM. Unfortunately, a pedestrian bridge was bent, and many people started to fall off, landing on top of people exiting the tunnel. People began to panic when they saw people falling from the sky, and the tunnel filled up with over 5,000 people when the maximum capacity is just 1,000 people. This caused people to suffocate and become crushed. After the event, King Fahd declared that the event was “God’s will, which is above everything”.

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
A vintage image from an ACDC concert. Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock

AC/DC Crowd Rush of 1991

On January 18, 1991, over 13,000 fans were packed into the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah to watch an AC/DC concert. When the concert started, fans standing in front of the stage started pushing one another to get closer to the front. This is actually very common at concerts, but for some reason, this night was different. At least 6 people were seriously injured, and two fell into a coma and later passed. One of the victims was a 14-year old named Curtis Child. This was his first concert ever, and it ended in fatality. Curtis’ family sued AC/DC and the concert promoters for $8 million. In the end, they settled with the families of the victims out of court for an undisclosed amount of money.

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
The day after the Lan Kwai Fong tragedy. Credit: Post Magazine

Lan Kwai Fong Tragedy

On January 1 of 1993, 20 lives were lost and 71 were injured in Hong Kong in the night club district on Lan Kwai Fong street. A crowd of 20,000 people rushed out of restaurants and clubs and surged into the streets so they could witness the countdown to midnight. This sounds very normal, because it happens every year on New Year’s Eve in New York City when people gather to see the ball drop. But there was something about that crowd in Hong Kong that night that caused a stampede to occur.

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
People walking towards the Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, India. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

1999 Sabarimala Stampede

In January of 1999, over 200,000 pilgrims were gathered at the Hindu Sabarimala shrine in Kerala, India. They were all scrambling to witness what they called a “celestial light” that they could see in the distance. Thousands of men were standing on a hill. A landslide occurred from the sheer weight of those people standing on the hill. This caused a panic of people running away from the landslide, rushing down the hill as it fell, and people being buried alive. A total of 52 people perished in the tragedy. This wasn’t the first tragedy to happen to Hindu pilgrims, though. In 1996, more than 200 pilgrims perished when they were caught in a blizzard en route to the sacred Amarnath cave site in the northern state of Kashmir. After the tragedy, the owners of the temple admitted that their “celestial light” was actually man made.

These Shocking Tales of Human Stampedes Ended in Tragedy
Many children lost their shoes when running away from the Throb nightclub disaster. Credit: New Frame

Throb Nightclub Disaster

The Throb nightclub disaster occurred on March 24, 2000. A panic broke out after the detonation of a tear gas canister at the Throb nightclub in Chatsworth, Durban in South Africa. Unlike most nightclubs, this night was filled with very young kids who went out dancing. There were 600 children from age 11-14 celebrating the end of term. The incident resulted in the demise of 13 children and 100 injured. The youngest to pass in the accident was just 11 years old. Vincent Pillay, Selvan Naidoo, and Sivanthan Chetty were accused for the incident. Naidoo and Pillay later admitted their involvement in the Durban High Court. Naidoo confessed that he put the canister behind the speakers after Pillay smuggled it inside the club. He said he was offered $1,000 and a job at Silver Slipper Club by Chetty, the manager there.


How did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Inside the World’s Deadliest Fireworks Accident. Jessie Guy-Ryan. Atlas Obscura. 2016

Crowd surge at a Who concert killed 11 people in 1979: ‘It was so strong, it just tore us apart’. Brittany Shamas. Washington Post. 2021.

Bethnal Green Tube Disaster: ‘I tried to black it out’. BBC. 2016.

Concert of Death : Cities Rethink ‘Festival Seating’ After Three AC/DC Fans Die. Chuck Philips. LA Times. 1991.

South Asia Stampede tragedy at Hindu shrine. BBC. 1999.

Throb nightclub tragedy: ‘It’s like it was yesterday’. New Frame. 2022.