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Stuff You Should Know: Hillsborough Human Crush

On April 15th,1989, 96 people died in Hillsborough stadium; “crushed” (causes of death vary) to death by other humans. Located in England, the Hillsborough stadium was stormed by nearly twenty five thousand fans who congregated to witness a soccer game. Too many fans tried to enter the stadium at the same time, and the fenced-in nature of the stands at Hillsborough ment people were packed together to the point where they asphyxiated. This accident is believed to have been  caused mainly by improper crowd control techniques from the police, and following the event, standards were put into place to prevent any future disasters.

As the beginning of the soccer match was approaching, a problem was accumulating outside the stadium: thousands of people wanted entry and weren’t being submitted fast enough due to the bottlenecked entrances and lack of turnstiles. Police monitoring the crowd began to worry that the crush of people might become lethal, so it was ordered that one of the exit gates to the stadium be opened to alleviate the problem. However, that decision was made without considering that now there was free entry into the stadium. An enormous mass of people stormed into the already crowded stadium, causing the potentially lethal crush outside to migrate into a fenced-in and already crowded environment.

As people surged into the stands, a problem formed immediately. The stands were already crowded but people kept coming in, and once a crowd begins to move it’s nearly impossible to stop it. People were trampled, crushed, couldn’t breathe, and at the front of the stands, people were squished against the fences. Fans began climbing the fences onto the field to escape the fatal crush. However, police had yet to realize the severity of the situation and in fact believed fans were trying to rush the field. So while police attempted to stop people from escaping onto the field, the crush simply became worse. Eventually, people began to rip the fences separating the stands and the field, and police finally attempted to assist the people inside the crush.

Initially the crush was blamed on the fans; the police said that drunken hooligans started the stampede. It was later discovered that it was the law’s ineptitude and lack of research on how to control crowds that allowed for the crush to happen. Fortunately, safety procedures were put in effect to prevent any such event from happening again. With nearly a hundred dead and hundreds injured, the Hillsborough human crush was a catastrophic accident. Thankfully, nothing of this caliber has happened since then.

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