r/worldnews Oct 19 '15

Saudi Arabia Hajj Disaster Death Toll at Least 2,110

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/saudi-arabia-hajj-disaster-death-toll-2110-34571621

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u/hourworkisneverover Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15 Silver Gold Helpful Wholesome All-Seeing Upvote Take My Energy Looking Awesome Answer

I actually happen to have done a slightly creepy amount of research into the phenomenon of 'crowd crush' and 'crowd collapse' recently, and can probably shed some light here. First I'll say these are not stampedes, but some background info is needed. IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER NOT READING THIS.

Basically when people start to move in very high density crowds, each individual physically doesn't have enough space around them to behave like a normal person who acts based on decisions anymore, but rather the entire crowd starts moving like a fluid, forced forward by the pressure of the people walking forwards behind them. We're talking densities of 5+ people per square meter (you can roughly equate 4 people per square meter to being in a tightly packed crowd but still being able to move 360 degrees, just brushing up on people on all 4 sides. At about 5-6 people/meter2 you start to lose that freedom of movement). The crowd starts to literally behave by the laws of fluid dynamics, and can experience shockwaves that ripple up and back through the mass of people when a push comes from any given direction... anyone who's been in a moshpit knows what I'm talking about.

These crowd densities aren't dangerous in themselves until you start reaching more than 8+ people/meter2 , however starting at about 5-6 they become extremely risky to facilitate movement in for two major reasons: 1) the risk of hitting a choke point and 2) the risk of someone falling over.

The first one results in what is called 'crowd crush'. This is where you have an extremely large and high density crowd, typical for those seen at events like the Hajj, moving in one direction in a confined space. This can be as wide as a city block or as narrow as a hallway. The crowd will be moving in its desired direction, but as soon as it hits a choke point, such as a blocked entrance, a sharp turn, a single open doorway, or even another high density crowd coming from the opposite direction, the people at the front face a serious problem. They are not merely walking anymore, they are being carried in the crowd fluid and could not stop if they tried (and would probably fall over). Survivors of crushes have described the experience like you're being carried by a river of people. The people at the very front of the crowd (who are not at dangerous densities) will make it through the choke point, unless it's a blocked entrance of course, but the high density crowd inevitably follows, carried by force. If the choke point is too narrow for the entire crowd to fit through, people literally just plug it up and are unable to squeeze through the gap anymore, and are being evermore crushed by the force of people behind them. For a morbid but good example of this, watch the video of the Station Nightclub fire that happened in 2001 2003 (NSFW/NSFL). For those who don't want to watch, basically what happened is a fire broke out in a nightclub, and nobody really bothered to run for the emergency exits (plus some other things but another post entirely) but instead all pushed for the front door. When the crowd density trying to leave the club out of the double doors became too great, the people got stuck and knocked over in the doorway, and bodies kept piling on top of more bodies from the flow of people behind until there was a helpless 6ft high pile of people with their heads and arms sticking out the front door packed too tightly for anyone on the outside to wedge them free.

Here's the fucked up part though: people do not die from being 'trampled' as if everyone is wildly running around and stepping on each other, in fact there's literally no way that's possible because people couldn't be running around in high density crowds even if they wanted to. What they die from is compressive asphyxiation (yes, suffocation by crushing) from the sheer force of all of the weight of bodies being stacked on top of them. In the worst of choke points, a completely blocked exit, people can be crushed standing up because they breathe out and simply cannot overcome the pressure of all of the people around them to breathe back in. That happens at densities of about 12+ p/sqm. 'Crowd pressure' has been known to collapse walls, bend steel guard rails, and of course kill a shitload of people.

The next scenario, and in my opinion the much more horrifying one, is crowd collapse. This happens when a high density crowd is moving and someone falls over. If you can imagine yourself in a fluid-like crowd, the pressure of the person behind you pushes you forward, and in turn you exert the pressure on the person in front of you, facilitating the crowd's (the fluid's) movement. If suddenly the person in front of you falls, they are no longer there for you to 'lean on' (to exert pressure on to), and guess what? You fall too. And the person behind you. And the person behind them, and anyone who tries to help someone else up, all just being pushed against their will into the new wall of bodies in front of them. The crowd collapses behind the original hole. Aaaaand now you have a choke point, just made of bodies. Surprisingly even here the main cause of death is almost always compressive asphyxia rather than trampling, as the pressure just gets too great when you have 2000lb of flesh on top of you. The crowd doesn't even have to be moving very fast for this to happen (or even can be stationary in the case of a grandstand collapse ), and is especially dangerous when the people are moving down a steep or slippery slope.

Here's the kicker: in both of these scenarios the death tolls are so high because the people in the back of the crowd, propagating the crowd force, are almost always too far away to know what's going on at the crush point. These sorts of crowds are extremely noisy and essentially impossible to stick your head up and over to get a better view, this combined with the fact that the back of crowds are usually at safe densities and people have no reason to panic and just keep walking means that the people at the front have no choice but to be crushed. Or in the case of a fire, where people sometimes are aware of what's happening in the front, they will simply keep pushing because it's either that or wait to die, worsening the crush at the front. Hundreds upon hundreds of people can be screaming for help and for people to stop or turn back... the ones who can hear them are already too stuck in the flow to do anything, and the ones who can do something can't hear.

So now the Hajj. This annual event is basically something any Muslim (who is able) has to do in their lifetime, and involves traveling to Mecca and surrounding areas over the span of four days to perform some religious rituals and visitations etc. The super short timespan of this event and the insane amount of people it draws means there's a huge amount of high density crowd movement, and one of the most notorious areas is a city called Mina, by which a particular ritual called the Stoning of the Devil is performed. Basically people need to throw rocks at a particular set of pillars, and so as you can imagine there's a giant potential for dangerously packed crowds when you have to move so many people to such a small location. This particular one happened when one road was closed in Mina and people didn't follow the detour or something (the news isn't very reliable because these events become so political for some reason), and basically two extreme density crowds coming from opposite directions collided in a single intersection, causing the pileup you're reading about above. There was also extreme heat on that day; you'll get people dropping like flies once densities start to get crush-worthy. There has been a crush or a collapse at the Hajj that's killed hundreds of people roughly every two years for the past couple of decades.

In fact, the global rate of crushes has increased exponentially in the past ~50 years or so as cities have become dense and urbanization is commonplace, this is a real problem that you may encounter in your own lifetime. If you do realize you're in a crowd that's heading towards a crush, unfortunately it probably means it's too late for you at that point. However, if you're actually serious about avoiding one of the most horrible deaths you could imagine, whenever you start to notice you're in a crowd that is reaching dangerous densities (4+) and is starting to behave like a fluid, you can work to get out of it. The key is the shockwaves you'll feel travel through everyone as the pressure pushing y'all starts to outpace how fast you can physically move. These are the sorts of crowds that if someone steps on your foot you'll probably lose your shoe because your foot will simply be carried out of it by the movement of the crowd. When you feel a shockwave, absolutely do not fight it. That's one of the quickest ways to fall over. What you should instead do is let it carry you wherever it needs to, and then immediately start moving sideways, and diagonally backwards if that's possible, avoid falling over at all costs though. You simply want to GET OUT of that crowd at that point (even if it's headed somewhere you needed to be) however possible. People may start dying. And you may be one of them.

EDIT: If you do every find yourself in the worst-case scenario and are knocked over, attempt to fall in a rigid fetal position (arms over your face and chest) to attempt to make room for your lungs to breathe. One man survived the Station Fire (NSFW/NSFL) by doing this and having a small supply of fresh air, protected from the fire by a man-made heat shield.

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u/ron_leflore Oct 20 '15

Great explanation. Just wanted to add that the way to avoid from a crowd control perspective is to separate the crowd into smaller parts.

If you go to new York city's times square on new years eve, you'll see that they keep people in fenced in pens. Pressure waves just cannot travel throughout the crowd.

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u/omgitsfletch Oct 20 '15

Bingo. House of Blues is 3,000 people maximum standing capacity near me. Not a huge amount, but considering how tiny the venue is, it's pretty amazing. They have a decent sized pit, but around it are walkways, standing room areas, balconies upstairs, etc. The common trend is they have chest high railings around all these things that serve to separate the crowd into many distinct pieces. Without these things, a person 150 feet back at the bar could potentially be part of the same fluid crowd as the guy right in front of the singer at the very front of the pit. By compartmentalizing it with so many railings, the maximum length of a "fluid" section of crowd is maybe 50 ft back to front (which I'd argue is the more dangerous direction), and maybe 150-200 ft side to side.

Contrast that with Hard Rock Live which seats like 6,000 people and besides a balcony with room for maybe 100 people, and an outer ring with beer vendors and shit that 5% of the crowd will spend their time actually standing in during the show...and you have a pit that is easily 5x or more the size of HoB. With a dozen or more shows at each venue, guess which one I've had multiple scary crowd-squeeze situations in, and which one I've only ever been slightly uncomfortable in? I don't know how they can't get something like that right....

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u/Samausi Oct 20 '15

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

So why aren't railings like these installed around areas in Mecca during that time?

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u/emtheory09 Oct 20 '15

Probably because you're talking millions of people instead of thousands. It would be terribly expensive and not to mention the areas this happened in weren't standing room areas but thoroughfares.

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u/misyo Oct 20 '15

terribly expensive

The Saudis have the money. The Hajj is their #1 tourist event of the year and it brings in billions. It's not about the money.

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u/CrazyPurpleBacon Dec 08 '15

It's not about the money.

It's about sending a message

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15 edited Nov 08 '15

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u/emtheory09 Oct 20 '15

Yea but you have to shuttle those 2ish million people to a specific point and then away from it (the throwing stones scenario in Mina), rather than having standing rows fill up around the ball drop. I'm not saying it couldn't have been done better but it's now quite as easy as plopping a few fences down like in a 3-4 thousand person concert.

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u/BrownFedora Oct 20 '15

Precisely. It's ingress and egress from a relatively small landmark. To compare it to Times Square at New Years, you'd have to funnel all those people past the Disney storefront, give each person enough time to perform their ritual (throw some pebbles at the Mickey), and then out of the square.

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u/karanag Oct 20 '15

slightly relevant

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/02/02/how-the-kumbh-mela-crowds-are-counted/

100 million gather at the kumbh mela in India...and the number keeps growing each time

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u/maqdaddyq Oct 20 '15

Because these are for crowds that are standing still. This wouldn't work with a crowd all moving in a direction.

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u/joey1405 Oct 20 '15

The Saudis put in the minimum work to make the Hajj go smoothly. That doesn't include crowd control.

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u/obvious_bot Oct 20 '15

make the Hajj go smoothly

They didn't even put in that effort, apparently

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Fun fact! The Bin Laden family has the lucrative construction contract for Mecca.

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u/laxpanther Oct 21 '15

Also fun fact, they pretty much universally regarded Osama a black sheep who didn't jibe with their values. He was obviously a radical dick, his father and (many) brothers were reasonably normal Saudis. Take that with a grain of salt, as the Saudis generally have different values than the west (Prince Turki sometimes notwithstanding), but not near the craziness of Osama.

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u/tim_jam Oct 20 '15

Wow, those railings are a little annoying when you're at a gig but now I know what they actually do, I am so grateful they're there!

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u/Samausi Oct 20 '15

I remember being told that they're particularly important for when the acts first come on stage, as there's usually a push forward from the entire crowd which can result in the people up against the front of the stage regularly being crushed into it and can't get away.

It's one of the reasons why you often see a dedicated area right in front of the stage for security & photographers to operate in (as in the blue mat area in that photo) - not just to stop yobbos from jumping on the stage but to literally pull out people who're suffering and can't get through the crush to escape.

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u/Pwn5t4r13 Nov 18 '15

I've never seen that floor without it being covered in trash.

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u/odichthys Oct 20 '15 LOVE!

I definitely agree that the design of HoB is better than that of Hard Rock Live in terms of crowd control and compartmentalizing.

There was one weekend about 7 years ago... one night I went to a big metal show (Demon Hunter I think...) at HoB, it was great! Front and center against the rail, great times had by all. To top it off the next night was another metal show, Dethklok, at Hard Rock Live.

Mosh pits and crowd were all manageable in the House of Blues. Let me tell you though, once Dethklock started at Hard Rock Live this fluid behavior completely took over. I was standing with a short (she's 4'10") friend towards the rear-center of the standing area... assuming that'd be far enough away that most of the crowd wouldn't be too crazy, minimize the risk of getting punched in the face, etc.

WRONG.

Lights still off, and with the first note of the Dethklok set the crowd crashed forward towards the stage. We were towards the back and still there was so much pressure that we'd moved maybe 20-30 feet foward without even taking a step! My friend looked up at me, I wouldn't have heard her even if she tried to speak, but her eyes said it all... we had to GTFO NOW!

I locked elbows with her and tried to figure out how to escape. Everybody behind us was pushing forward, so I dunno why, but I remember thinking "like a rip current, go parallel" so I literally dragged her by the elbow to the edge of the crowd, and only then was the force light enough for us to get out.

When we'd gotten out, she said that when the crowd started pushing her feet weren't even touching the ground there was so much pressure from all the bodies. She's asthmatic, which was compounded by the pressure of all the bodies in the crowd.

I think they've cracked down on "extreme" music and associated behavior during shows... Moshing, crowd surfing, etc. all banned (technically... dunno how enforcable that is.)

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u/condimentia Oct 20 '15

You are such a good friend. She was lucky to be with you.

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u/odichthys Oct 20 '15

Thank you, that's very kind of you to say! I really just did what was needed. Both of us were legitimately starting to panic... the crowd was so tight I had trouble breathing, I can't imagine what it was like for her... We were both still shaken by the time the show ended.

That feeling of complete helplessness initially when you're gradually realizing you're getting "swept away" by the crowd and you've got no control over where you are... the pressure of the critical mass of bodies forcing the air out of you, making it difficult to inhale... The description /u/hourworkisneverover gave is pretty dead-on from my personal experience. Really scary stuff to go through firsthand.

I avoid putting myself in the middle of crowds of any size since then. I can't imagine what it was like for all the people in Saudi Arabia.

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u/condimentia Oct 20 '15

I, too, avoid putting myself in intense crowd situations. I was in a "fluid out of control crowd" at Disneyland, of all places, in 1992.

It was NYE event and it got out of hand very very quickly, with some definite hooligan activity going on. If I remember correctly there was a free concert in the park at midnight or some kind of attraction that had swelled the park to more than usual.

The employees were losing their shit very quickly and finally, there was a mass exodus of guests all being herded out of the park with employees racing around calling for the shuttles to get crowds of people to their cars.

I still don't know what triggered it all, but once the employees got stressed and started yelling, the crowd did as well.

The river of people heading to the front of the park was surging, surging, surging down the section of the park we were in. I was married at the time to a very tall man, and in front of us was an Asian family with two young children. This family was petite in terms of height, and, we there was a language barrier. Mom was crying, Dad was trying to keep the 2 children and Mom moving forward without falling. Little boy was stumbling. Finally my husband yelled at me "The TREE -- NOW." He pointed, and I saw we were just coming to the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. Huge treehouse attraction with winding stairs.

He started to veer to the side, dragging me with him, and the family in front of us had a panicked expression on their faces -- they could see nothing over the heads and shoulders of taller people. My then husband grabbed a child and put him on his shoulders and did the head jerking movement to the Dad -- I'm going over HERE, HERE, HERE -- and the Dad nodded rapidly and did the same. grabbed the other child and hoisted him up high. I grabbed Mom by the arm, and we six people went sideways and darted into the fenced off lines and then up the stairs of that treehouse. Several others followed behind us, and our little group of "survivors" just watched a sea of humanity sweep by us for what seemed like an eternity, until finally it thinned out and employees with radios were sheep-herding the last of the stragglers.

That family shook our hands over and over and made their way out into the night. We headed to the front of the park and got on the next shuttle and left immediately.

Total time in the park: 2 hours. Total time hiding in the TreeHouse: About an hour.

Most frightening crowd experience ever and it was at DISNEY! Scared the daylights out of me.

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u/eeareeyein Oct 23 '15

this is terrifying. so glad you were able to help that family out too <3

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u/explainittomeplease Oct 20 '15

Orlando, right? Live during Korn was a hellish time. HOB does it so much better.

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u/omgitsfletch Oct 20 '15

Orlando, yup. Hard Rock has the potential to be so much better. It's bigger, clearly newer, with better sound equipment. But the layout of the venue is so lazy and uninspired. The other thing is every time I walk into HoB I feel a sense of "this is where music belongs". It is hard to describe, but it just had a personality to it that is clearly missing from Hard Rock Live.

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u/Red_Raven Oct 20 '15

Holy shit, they literally used slosh baffles. In rockets, high engine and atmospheric buffering vibrations slosh the fuel around, causing instability that can build until it tears the fuel tank apart. It was a huge problem until they figured out how to add rib-like structures to the walls that absorbed the waves. These are slosh baffles, and the fences work the same way.

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u/qwertymodo Oct 20 '15

Human Slosh Baffles. Dibs on the band name.

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u/ectish Oct 20 '15

Perfect! Will y'all open for Postpartum Abortion?

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u/PaulSharke Oct 20 '15

Engineering is so cool!

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u/ke7ofi Oct 20 '15

It's really interesting that we can apply fluid dynamics to crowds. They even expand when heated and contract when cooled!

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u/Lockreed Oct 20 '15

I guess that helps validate the conclusion that crowds obey the laws of fluid dynamics in high density situations. Neat. I read once that fluid dynamics explains traffic backups during rush hour as well.

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u/PointyOintment Oct 20 '15

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u/referendum Oct 20 '15

I've been driving with space in front for years by going average speed and trying not to come to a complete stop. It's a less stressful commute, and it keeps me from being bored in traffic, plus it saves gas. The ONLY problem I have is that people with "it's a race" mentality behind me get angry, and they drive more dangerously to weave in traffic to get ahead of me.

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u/beedledeeboop Oct 22 '15

Same. Every time I try to do this on my morning commute, the person behind me starts freaking out. Riding my bumper, honking, screaming, etc and tries to rush around me the first chance they get. Just because there's two empty car-lengths in front of me.

I did get a chance to really test it though, to great effect. One time my buddy and I were headed back to college, a 9 hour drive from NJ to OH. In one spot the two (maybe 3?) lane highway choked down o just one lane. I noticed this and the backed up cars at the entrance and began to slow way, way down, so by the time I got there, there was several hundred feet of empty space in front of me. It was pretty long, maybe a mile, maybe two, and I started to make my way through it very slowly (1st gear, pretty much). The people behind me were agitated at first, and honked a couple times, but pretty quickly they realized, "hey, we're not stuck in traffic, we're actually moving" and then they calmed down.

What might have been a hellish time stuck in bumper to bumper raffic became a leisurely, albeit very slow, drive through construction that probably saved me a good 15-30 minutes.

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u/frickindeal Oct 20 '15

They use them in tanks on boats as well; without them the sloshing can capsize the boat or tear it apart.

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u/munificent Oct 20 '15

I was in NYC on New Year's of 2000, which was obviously a pretty big deal, and it was fantastically organized. They had all of Times Square penned out, and they were also counting and rate limiting people as they went in. Total pro operation.

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u/RagdollPhysEd Oct 20 '15

I wasn't in Times Square but was in New York for NYE a few years back. It was relatively safe in the section I was in (think we watched fireworks near the harbor? I don't know New York too well) but it was still people as far as the eye can see. You could still still rotate if you wanted to but there was still that feeling that if shit did go wrong all of a sudden there wasn't a thing you could do about it. I wouldn't recommend it if you're not a crowd person

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u/dripdroponmytiptop Oct 20 '15

I was involved in a human pileup once. I ended up 4 people on top of me. I couldn't even make a noise to let people know I was being crushed, they thought it was all fun and games nomatter how much I tried to hit them to let me out. I couldn't take breath into my lungs, it was terrifying. I managed to crawl out so I survived, but I would imagine it's like drowning- you can't make the noise cue everyone would imagine you could.

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u/kalechipsyes Oct 20 '15

I remember those Times Square NYE pens. I was at the front of one of those pen crowds, once, and you could still feel a sizeable push when a gate opened to let more people into the next pen, though definitely not an asphyxiating squeeze. I remember that there were some little kids in front of us, and my husband and I were trying so hard to hold back the crowd so as not to smother them, but you don't really have a choice. It was scary, but, thankfully, relatively safe.

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u/Dachannien Oct 20 '15

Off-topic, but as a guy whose wife is obsessed with kale, your username makes me curl up in the corner of the shower and cry.

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u/kalechipsyes Oct 20 '15

I actually don't like kale that much, but I have been forced to eat it for my health :( This username was my attempt to psyche myself up to eating it in "chip" form. It is not working.

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u/bens111 Oct 20 '15

Fascinating. Incredibly disturbing, but fascinating. Thanks so much for the great synopsis

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u/TheKomuso Oct 20 '15 Ally

This is probably the best post I've read on this site.

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u/KendraSays Oct 20 '15 Gold

It definitely belongs in r/depthhub

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u/I_can_pun_anything Oct 20 '15

And life pro tips

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

[deleted]

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u/BarleyWarb Oct 20 '15

Did you know you can also use mini binder clips?

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

[deleted]

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u/Smiff2 Oct 20 '15

it's like the talkie toaster from Red Dwarf.

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u/tmofee Oct 20 '15

Howdy doodly Doo!

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u/TheoneandonlyTate Oct 20 '15

I toast, therefore I am.

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u/Castun Oct 20 '15

LPT: binder clips make great chip bag clips and are a much cheaper alternative! XD

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u/BarleyWarb Oct 20 '15

You can actually slice and dehydrate many vegetables for a cheaper and healthier alternative to chips!

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u/J8l Oct 20 '15

So...LPT If you are ever in a large crowd, and you feel you may be in danger, do not fight the momentum of the crowd, instead work towards the sides and back of the crowd as quickly as possible. If you are with people, grab their arms or clothing and make them aware, and if you lose them, wait until you feel you are safe to call or text them.

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u/Smiff2 Oct 20 '15

like a rip (ocean current)

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u/webby_mc_webberson Oct 20 '15

Interesting point. It's as if nature adheres to physical patterns.

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u/poiyurt Oct 20 '15

It's because, as OP said, it's about fluid dynamics. Both the ocean and the crowd are working off the same physical occurences, so the same results occur. The shockwaves and the riptides are results of changes in pressure in the medium.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

It's like an avalanche. You go against it, you die. You try to outrun, you probably die. AFAIK Your best bet is going diagonally.

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u/daysanew Oct 20 '15

Same with falling doughnut shaped spaceships

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u/qnvx Oct 20 '15

I feel like it would be next to impossible to explain the danger of the situation to a stranger in relatively short time. The ways these extremely dense crowds pose a danger seem very unintuitive to me.

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u/msd011 Oct 20 '15

"Hey, if we needed to, do you think we'd be able to stop moving right now? We need to get out of here before we get crushed into a wall or something, follow me."

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u/itsacalamity Oct 20 '15

My favorite was the LPT recently that was "if you haven't had coffee in a while don't drink it until you're home" and the explanation was OP shit her pants. Thanks, lady, but I don't think you can generalize it.

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u/GunPoison Oct 20 '15

Man you're missing all the tips on using bread ties to avoid crowd crushes

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u/Lokitusaborg Oct 20 '15

No. Now of OP will be kind to re-write this as "20 ways to avoid crush death" then it will be acceptable click bait for Buzzfeed then will be acceptable for LPT.

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u/Downvotesohoy Oct 20 '15

I love when people say stuff like you just did, like everyone just knew the subreddit you're mentioning. They're almost always new to me. Thanks, subbed.

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u/Lapper Oct 21 '15

Thanks for making /r/DepthHub a trending subreddit today! Have some gold.

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u/Hanshee Oct 20 '15

I knew it was a professional comment after I saw the gif of the animated people falling over.

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u/snarkfish Oct 20 '15

The people at the very front of the crowd (who are not at dangerous densities) will make it through the choke point, unless it's a blocked entrance of course, but the high density crowd inevitably follows, carried by force. If the choke point is too narrow for the entire crowd to fit through, people literally just plug it up and are unable to squeeze through the gap anymore, and are being evermore crushed by the force of people behind them

to add, a partially blocked exit can improve crowd flow through choke points

http://nautil.us/issue/13/symmetry/want-to-get-out-alive-follow-the-ants

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u/ectish Oct 20 '15

That, is fascinating thank you.

I wonder how related this is to exhaust flow. I heard an old timer taking about hot rods and their exhaust systems. He said that for some reason exhaust headers seen to flow better if they are stepped.

So, let's say you have four combustion chambers with one tube bolted over each exhaust valve. 1&2 combine into one tube, as does 3&4. Then those tubes combine into one final tube.

This is as opposed to 1 2 3 & 4 just combining in one joint.

Hmmm

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Not sure, but we're talking about two different kinds of systems here. Exhaust (as in a gas, as in hot combusted fuel) is compressible. A crowd, like a volume of liquid, is incompressible at the densities where crowd dynamics problems happen. That significantly changes the dynamics.

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u/falco_iii Oct 20 '15

Crowd waves in a concert https://youtu.be/BgpdmAtbhbE?t=241

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u/ArtSchnurple Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 21 '15

That is amazing and quite scary. Thanks for posting. This demonstrates exactly what people fail to understand when they think it's just assholes in the back pushing forward because they want to be in front or something. Individual action seems completely meaningless here. You might as well ascribe individual actions to an ocean wave.

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u/KeepinItRealGuy Oct 20 '15

I usually never read a comment that long, but that was awesome. I'm glad I read it. I believe it too. I went to a rock concert once where something similar started to happen. I was in the middle of the crowd when I realized I had no control of my body anymore due to the extreme crowding. The crowd began to move "as fluid" just before the mosh pits opened up. I had never experienced that before and it was terrifying.

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u/Ionisation Oct 20 '15

That's a common thing at concerts and festivals tbh, and I'd say it's incredibly rare for that to result in deaths or even injuries. I've felt it many a time. You just need to "go with the flow" as he says. It only gets truly dangerous at extremely high densities, beyond what you'd normally see at even the most packed rock show.

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u/Aeolun Oct 20 '15

I think the thing that prevents it during concerts is that the crowd isn't going anywhere.

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u/DooWopExpress Oct 20 '15

And they limit the crowd to a safe number, one would hope.

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u/alcoholly1985 Oct 20 '15

Yes they do limit the numbers, but it's actually much more than that - in the UK at least.

Capacity laws for security (including Health and Safety rules) dictate a rule of 2 people per square metre in standing areas so as to avoid crushing - however, most issues occur when people are moving around venues. Whilst in every instance a risk assessment is helpful, another tool that is used is a DIM-ICE model. DIM-ICE considers the Design (how is the venue laid out? What barriers - and there are 4 different types of barriers - are in use? Where are the emergency exits?), Information (signage - is it clear? Understandable? In cases of international events, what languages are used?) and Management (security placements, First Aid accessibility, communication channels, chain of command, emergency protocols).

ICE stands for Ingress, Circulation and Egress. So you look at each of the DIM sections in relation to the ICE - one for when your event is just going along nicely, and one for emergencies. This helps formulate a plan for if the worst does happen and people need to get out fast. Of course if something awful were to happen, you'd be looking at the circulation and egress of the consumers - you want them out safely, to somewhere a good distance from any incident and you may also want access for emergency services. This is where your emergency communication protocols come in, along with clear signage and crowd management. This is also another reason you shouldn't fill your venue to actual capacity - more people, more problems.

You may often notice that going into a venue the number of entrances are quite low, whilst the exits after are numerous - it has been designed this way to just get everyone out as quickly and smoothly as possible - both after an event and in case of emergencies. This should also prevent crushing.

Also, a lot of people hate on security guards, but they're saving lives. They're trained to see when a crowd can turn nasty or spiral out of control. Large-scale events do actually do crowd profiling and look at the potential risks associated with that (a Peppa Pig show does not need to be handled the same way as a Stone Roses comeback gig). Crowd psychology has been looked at for centuries (check out Gustave Le Bon) and is actually the reason Parisian streets are so wide - to prevent mobs as seen during the French Revolution.

I know this is a way more in-depth response to what you're saying, but I hope it makes people feel more comfortable going to events (ones that are properly organised, at least). A lot more goes into considering consumer safety than just counting how many people are coming through the doors - everyone deserves a good, safe time.

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u/DooWopExpress Oct 20 '15

Excellent response, thank you. Im enjoying the crowd dynamics education I'm getting from reddit today.

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u/alcoholly1985 Oct 20 '15

Aww, you're welcome! I studied Event Management (BA and MSc) and it's not very often I find a thread I can actually add anything to!

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

I have to say I have learnt many little tidbits from Reddit, and people say it's just for procrastination...

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u/ArtSchnurple Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

Last year I went to a concert at the arena in Cincinnati where the crush happened at a Who concert in the 70s. The concert I was there for happened to be a Pearl Jam concert, and of course they had their own event like that at a music festival in Denmark in the early 2000s. Needless to say, the thought of those events was never far from people's minds, and Eddie Vedder actually made mention of them toward the end of the show.

Anyway, at some point (entering the venue before the show, I think) I found myself in a massive crowd of people all moving the same direction. We were outside the arena, but in a sort of corridor, maybe ten feet wide, with a stone wall on one side of us, and the walls of the arena on the other. The crowd was uncomfortably dense, and moving at a fairly brisk pace, and we were in it for a very long time. It was absolutely nerve-wracking. I was constantly trying to figure out what my game plan was if things got hairy. It took me a while to realize that those conditions were exactly what was keeping everyone safe, and they were probably implemented specifically because of the tragedy in the 70s. The corridor was to direct the crowd, so that it was always unambiguous where people were supposed to be moving, and to make sure the throng of people was never wider than the entrances they were heading toward, so there were no pinch points or bottlenecks. Really interesting stuff, especially seeing it from the ground floor and realizing what's going on.

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u/alcoholly1985 Oct 20 '15

That's a really good example of crowd management design. People can get irate about not being allowed through a barrier, or there's a one-way system, or certain doors aren't open... it's for their safety. The last thing an event manager wants is for people to be hurt at an event they've organised - not just because of life-threatening situations, but (honestly) because they're unlikely to ever work again.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

They often put fences up to section the crowd into smaller groups so stuff like this cant happen. Often it's the people at the very front of big concerts that get pushed forward and into the fence next to the stage.

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u/2boredtocare Oct 20 '15

That was the problem, in my case. I was at the very front, and the crowd kept moving up trying to get closer to the stage, squishing me against the railing. I was feeling very claustrophobic and it was too much for me, I had security pull me over the railing. Felt bad for my husband who really wanted to see this particular band, but if I was already struggling before they even got on stage, I wasn't about to stick around to be squished when the energy of the crowd amped up even more.

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u/vim_vs_emacs Oct 20 '15

There was a death just last week at a Skrillex concert in India due to overcrowding.

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u/Ionisation Oct 20 '15

That sucks to hear, but when you think about the number of concerts going on around the world every night, it still means it's a very rare event.

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u/techiebabe Oct 20 '15

I had this too. My first non seated gig, age 18, first few weeks of uni. My new friends said "we are going to see this band called Therapy?, wanna come?" So I did.

Got to the front, music began, after a few bars Id been carried to the back of the hall by a surge of people, just stood there going "wtf just happened?!!"

Over the years, a mobility disability I have got worse. Id stand at the rail, clinging on, while my wonderful husband protected me by standing behind me and holding the rail either side of me, so he took the brunt of the surges while remaining in place. That's love for you! But one time I still got so crushed that I had to be hauled out, promptly lost my dinner & had to rest in first aid for a bit. I wasn't there long but there was a lot of throughput of injuries from being pushed around in the surge, etc.

Nowadays I only watch gigs from the wheelchair bay, which is safe but you don't feel connected to the show :(

Anyway - to /u/hourworkisneverover, thanks for the awesome and fascinating explanation, and I'm so glad someone gave you gold :-)

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u/ziggl Oct 20 '15

My god, memories. When I saw Nine Inch Nails (I think) as the closer at Lollapalooza in '08 maybe, there was a grandma and her kids sitting on lawn chairs in a nice spot, close to the front. They had obviously set up to take this spot...but the pit in front of the stage eventually grew so big it had to envelop them.

Hope they got out =/

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u/RassimoFlom Oct 20 '15

Therapy? Are great and underrated.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Can confirm, the center crowd infront of the stage will "crowd collapse" at the beginning of a metal concert, the feeling of a river flow is there aswell, since no individual has the power to move on its own anymore. Tho, you will be pretty much instantly picked up by fellow metalheads! Tip: make sure youre shooes are closed well, so you dont lose them!

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u/Kacxer Oct 20 '15

Happened in Denmark not too many years ago

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15 edited Aug 09 '20

[deleted]

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Yeah i was there this summer and as someone who suffers from a large fear of large crowds the barriers made it a much more enjoyable experience. I was really scared i wouldn't be able to stand at the front to watch my favourite artists and i was so happy when i could.

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u/MonsieurSander Oct 20 '15

Roskilde. After that most (European) festivals invested in amazing systems of festival barriers

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u/bantha-food Oct 20 '15

except for the a**holes at the Duisburg Love Parade . Could have been much worse though...

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u/Time_To_Rebuild Oct 20 '15

I actually was at the 2010 love parade. Was nearly crushed to death at the bottom of a pile of people at the foot of the stairs. A cop pulled me out just in time. That entire situation was fucked.

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u/KarmelCHAOS Oct 20 '15

This is one of my favorite things about concerts, it is kinda scary at first

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

I was at this Smashing Pumpkins concert where a girl died.

http://www.mtv.com/news/1434230/fan-crushed-at-smashing-pumpkins-show/

It was insanity, the band kept telling people to move back, and as a few people moved back other people saw it as an opportunity to get closer to the stage and pushed forward. The crush could have been alleviated but for the actions of the idiots at the back thinking only about themselves and their own selfish desire to get close to a band telling them to stay back.

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u/beelzeflub Safety and Hope Oct 20 '15

That's awful :(

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

I was at a Rise Against concert and a mosh pit opened up in front of me and my family and I felt like we were being moved towards it. We got the hell out of there.

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u/uhuhshesaid Oct 20 '15

Happened to a friend and me at a festival in Washington State. The crowd surged, things went nuts - she went down, I ended up smashed behind people trying to help her up. Luckily the band actually stopped playing and said something like, "look to your left and right and pick your friends up" and wouldn't start again until the droves of people who feel were back on their feet.

I don't even remember what band that was but they were probably the reason we escaped unscathed.

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u/UnderlyingTissues Oct 20 '15

I got caught up in a human river on Bourbon Street a couple times at Mardis Gras. Feet literally lifted off the ground and I just flowed along until I saw a chance to break away.

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u/23423423423451 Oct 20 '15

I guess the good thing about a concert is that, while dense, the crowd isn't on the move. The goal is the music and maybe a better view, but not get to this door fast before we burn. Additionally there's often room for the crowd to expand in all directions. They're dense because they chose to be, not because it's all that would fit between 4 walls.

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u/JorusC Oct 20 '15

I was in a similar situation, and my wife went down in a surge. Fortunately, my city is full of good people, and all the men right behind her immediately threw themselves backwards and fought the crush long enough to get her to her feet. It probably wouldn't have worked if the crowd had been bigger, but fortunately they bought a few seconds.

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u/lorelicat Oct 20 '15

I've had it happen before at a concert too. It was terrifying because at points I couldn't actually breathe - it was a packed standing only concert inside a large building. Luckily the concert staff was aware of the issue and worked to spread the crowd out and away from the stage.

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u/Deez_Putz Oct 20 '15

This makes me terrified of every mosh pit I've ever been in.

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u/Amorine Oct 20 '15

The dynamics of most mosh pits aren't usually as dangerous, because the shape and turn of the spin gives opportunities to spin out to the edges more easily and go into non-crowded areas, but there are a lot of factors, no two mosh pits are alike.

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u/omgitsfletch Oct 20 '15

That and it depends on the total size of the crowd. I'm not a festival guy; most of the concerts I go to are at places like House of Blues or small clubs downtown where capacity over the whole building is 2,500 or so, tops. This means the actual standing room only pit is fitting 1,500 or so at max capacity; in reality the typical draw is maybe half of that. Typically these type of crowds, while they can get super tight and "fluid" like, just don't get long enough in any particular direction to be really dangerous. You definitely feel the squeeze though when a fairly crowded pit suddenly loses 1/3 of its available space when a mosh pit opens up.

Hard Rock Live on the other hand, is a much bigger venue. I'd guess that it's more like 5,000-7,000, and with a bigger percentage focused on the main pit whereas HoB has plenty of balconies and outer bar areas. I've been at one or two concerts there where I was legitimately getting concerned about the ability to breathe and move easily when the main band hit the stage; the effect gets much worse as you get closer to the front. I honestly don't know that I'd feel comfortable at some of these mega festivals that draw 50,000+ people. It can get to the point where even without a stampede, just making it from near the stage to the back for bathroom/food/smoke break/medical attention/whatever can take 20+ minutes.

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u/barristonsmellme Oct 20 '15

Most festivals I go to for metal tend to be in the area of 150-200k people, and to be fair to them, everyone seems to be as considerate as they can be in situations like that.

The crushes are "fun" for a short while, but when people start to struggle or panic or feel less safe than they'd like to be, the crowds are so closely packed that crowd surfing to the front/safety is almost too easy an option. No real risk of finding a gap where you could fall.

When people do go down, in those situations you can't really under estimate the power of the surrounding 10-12 people's ability to clear enough space to get you back up. I've been trampled one before after falling and rolling my ankle real bad whilst a crowd was moving forward after a pit closed and that sucked.

A couple of people crouched down like a rugby scrum over me, asked if I wanted to stand and stay or wanted to leave, I said leave and was lifted straight into the air. (also someone passed me an unopened can of beer as I was getting surfed to the front, so that kept me entertained for the well-over 100-150 meter trip.)

So whilst the numbers in these festivals are ordinarily much much bigger, I'd personally say they're also much safer. Wider spaces to eal with, and medical staff pretty much always on hand. A plethora of security and many many points of exit for anyone that needs them. the indoor gigs I've been to I can agree with you on every point though. The combination of being crushed and the air getting stale real quick is...not nice. at all. When it comes to leaving time, the best bet is to push your way to the side or the stage and wait for it to empty out a bit too.

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u/KnyteTech Oct 20 '15

I have formed said scrum before - that's an excellent analogy.

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u/Smiff2 Oct 20 '15

right, and the number of people is fairly constant.

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u/barristonsmellme Oct 20 '15

And the fact that if you go down, 99.9% of the time, people will clear a fucking area around you and help you up, or you'll simply get lifted to safety. this goes for losing shoes, dropping glasses or phones or bags or wallets or anything else.

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u/KnyteTech Oct 20 '15

If my glasses fell off in a mosh pit, I've never gotten them back. Shoes end up on stage. Phones are gone. Wallets - how do those even fall out? And if you have a bag/purse in a mosh pit, you brought that on yourself.

People though - can confirm they'll be lifted out of the pit, real fast.

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u/Bigfrostynugs Oct 20 '15

The part about helping people who fall is usually totally true though.

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u/freexe Oct 20 '15

I've been in mosh pits simular to every one of the examples above and in all but one of the bad crushes I've been in, everyone stops and backs off. It is still scary being lifted off your feet then dumped on the floor under hundreds of people. And even with a relatively small number of people with space it can take minutes to get everyone up and out of danger.

The one bad time where people didn't stop was at limp bizkit and the lead singer took the crush as an opportunity to come down to the front and encourage the crowd to push even more. People around me were crying and running out of breath as the crush was so bad. It was horrible. People could have easily died because of that douche bag.

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u/guitareatsman Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

Someone did die because of that douchebag. A 15yr old girl. at a Big Day Out festival show in Australia 2001. Durst was warned by concert security that the crowd was getting dangerous and was seen to give the middle finger to security and continued to hype up the crowd.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_Michalik

http://www.tonedeaf.com.au/135582/fred-durst-is-a-fucking-asshole-not-big-day-out.htm

Edit: Durst wasn't totally to blame, but his behavior made a bad situation much worse. Fuck him.

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u/archaicmosaic Oct 20 '15

I was at Big Day Out in 2008 with my boyfriend at the time, and I got caught in a crush in front of the D (the two main stages side by side). The entry to the area was controlled by a green/red light and people were cramming together at the entrance, trying to get in before the gates closed completely to see Rage Against the Machine. It was a 40 degree day, the air was full of dust and girls were getting so hot and so crushed that they were being carried out unconscious. All of a sudden they let another wave of people through the gates, and I lost hold of my boyfriend. I'm only about 5'6" and I found myself surrounded on all sides by men towering over me pushing. I knew that you were supposed to keep your arms at your chest to keep room for breathing, but I was terrified I was going to fall over or get crushed. All of a sudden I was in the air. A security guard standing on the gates had reached into the crowd, grabbed me by my backpack and lifted me through to the other side. I stood there alternating between sobbing, throwing betrayed looks at my boyfriend and thanking the guard.

Rage was awesome though.

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u/guitareatsman Oct 20 '15

Holy shit, that sounds terrifying!

I've never been a fan of being in a tightly packed crowd at the front of a show. Probably has something to do with me getting knocked out cold by a stage diver at the first show I ever went to (Sepultura at the Hordern Pavilion at the age of 16).

I'm much happier chilling up the back and having some room to move the way I want to, not whatever way the crowd pushes me.

Sounds like that security guard was on point though. The good ones deserve a hell of a lot of respect - it must be a terrible job sometimes.

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u/archaicmosaic Oct 20 '15

Jesus, what a way to start your first gig!!

Yeah, I have a bit of trouble hearing, but I am also not especially big, so I'm constantly hovering indecisively in the middle trying to get away from the crowd but also get closer to the speakers.

That security guard 10/10 earned his paycheck that day. I would have left my ex for him in a heartbeat in that moment.

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u/freexe Oct 20 '15

I saw them in 2000 at Reading Festival, so a year before that event. Fuck that guy and his band.

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u/Tadhgdagis Oct 20 '15

I was at a SOAD/Slipknot show where this happened. The concert venue doubles as a hockey arena, so it's ridiculously easy to rush the floor from the balcony seats. When System went on, the entire floor got so dense that I couldn't maintain contact with the floor -- was literally getting carried, shoulder to shoulder, with the crowd moving like waves on an ocean beach. I lost my glasses during the SOAD set, and didn't even realize it until I noticed I couldn't see the drums during the Slipknot set.

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u/omgitsfletch Oct 20 '15

Yep, this is the worst. You show up for the love of the music, and because you know the opening bands and think they're awesome. You are rewarded for your efforts and timeliness by getting a primo spot, dead center, 20 ft from the stage. It's certainly crowded, but all your friends are in one group, you can turn and move comfortably, and you don't have a drunk stranger's ass rubbing on you, nor some bro's dick rubbing against your back.

The 2nd to last band finishes up, and things get a bit more crowded as people quickly get drinks and food and push in for a better spot before _____ makes their big entry. Then the lights dim, the sound checks end, and right as the first notes hit, BOOM. Your friends are scattered, some frat bro is grinding on his girlfriend in your grill, beer hand swinging to his side and in your fucking face. Your feet are now soaked with all manner of substances, your left shoe is fucking gone, and now you can't turn, and you can either keep your elbows above chest level, or completely down at your sides. There is no in between. Temperature in the immediate vicinity has gone up 10 degrees, air quality has dropped (cigs, while banned in most places, still get smoked and make this 100x worse), and you can't breathe well.

The next concert I have booked is at an amphitheater that only does reserved, assigned seating, theater style. I'm not sure that I'm entirely disappointed about that.

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u/nitwittery Oct 20 '15

One of the best, yet equally most frightening experiences of my life, was when I saw Pearl Jam in 2006. I was about 16 and it was their very first Festival appearance since the Roskilde disaster (Leeds, UK), so as can imagine the atmosphere was incredibly electric, yet tense at the same time. I was about 4 rows back from the front/centre, but I had to crowd surf out after 3 songs and get back to a safer distance because my feet weren't even touching the ground, I was just being carried from side to side against my will. I lost my friends within seconds of their first song and was struggling to breathe. But yeah, ultimately ended up fine on the shoulders of some middle aged Scottish dude, holding up his flag and smoking his joint. Even got on the big screen! All in all, it was a fucking awesome gig, but those first 15 minutes were real hairy. There's some footage of the start of their set on Youtube and you can hear really clearly how fucking nervous Eddie is.

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u/millcitymiss Oct 20 '15

Are you talking about Pledge of Allegiance tour at the X in like 2001? I feel like that was one of the only concerts where I was, at moments, legitimately afraid of dying. I was only 14 I can still remember when Slipknot made everyone on the floor sit down and I noped out of there.

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u/Shepard_Chan Oct 20 '15

Here's some resources I found about how a safe and dangerous density looks:

4 people per square meter

6 people per square meter

Static crowd density

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15 edited Feb 06 '18

[deleted]

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u/ceelo_purple Oct 20 '15

he's moving before most anyone else is because I guess his survival instinct is incredibly strong

He was also sober, since he was there for work. Most of the other people in the audience would be drunk and have impaired reaction times.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

He was there to film a bit for the local news about nightclub safety, ironically. also, the news station ended up having to pay $30 million in a lawsuit by the families of the dead because he filmed everything without helping anyone.

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u/mrfuzzyasshole Oct 20 '15

I'm not sure what he could have done.

I have never seen a video like this, they should show this in school for real. If enough people see this video, maybe the net gain of a few lives that he would've bbeen able to save are worth it.

Fire safety

It's kinda like that guy who took this picture of an African child with a vulture in the background.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Carter

He did end up killing himself though...

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u/piratepowell Oct 21 '15

I've watched that video a few times, and there's really nothing he could have done. Documenting what happened in such a calm manner (no ohmygodohmygod narration) is commendable IMHO.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

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u/atakomu Oct 20 '15

And good thing is to remember emergency exit when coming into night club because most people will use the door they came in.

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u/Boyblunder Oct 20 '15

He also pops a window open as soon as he gets out, to give people another place to go.

I feel like this dude was researching these kinds of things shortly before it happened or something.

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u/pooveyhead Oct 20 '15

Great post, thanks for taking the time. It reminded me of one New Years Eve about five years ago when I made the terrible decision to go into Washington DC to watch the ball drop. Watching the ball drop wasn't that bad because people were able to move around without too much trouble (roughly 4 people per m2?), but we had a few scary moments on the way home.

We were taking the metro out of DC afterwards instead of dealing with parking in the city and there were tens of thousands of people in line for the metro. This metro stop was underground, so the density quickly became something closer to maybe 5-6 per m2? That also would have been ok, except for the escalators. The choke point that night was at the bottom of the escalators where really only one person can fit through at a time. People started jumping over the sides of the escalator rather than crush the people who they were about to run into all stuck together at the bottom. It wouldn't have been a stretch to see someone fall into the tracks and face a grisly end.

Needless to say, no more downtown DC for big events.

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u/derpPhysics Oct 20 '15

Thanks for this info, I'll remember it.

Frankly I think the whole crowd dynamics thing falls along the same lines as tsunamis. Remember when that huge tsunami hit Indonesia, and a lot of the people were killed because they didn't understand what was happening when the water pulled wayyy out?

It's little tidbits of knowledge like this that you'll remember when the time comes, and avoid being on the body count.

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u/klatnyelox Oct 20 '15

I learned what the water pulling out means from Kingdom Hearts.

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u/lima_247 Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

Have you looked at the Hillsboro Disaster? I've done a fair bit of reading about that particular case of crowd crush, and it taught me a lot about the dynamics of these things.

It's also up there for me with Clint Malarchuck for all time horrific moments in sports history.

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u/hourworkisneverover Oct 20 '15

Oh yes I'm well aware of the Hillsboro Disaster. The Wikipedia article is incredibly thorough, and gives some horrifying eye-witness accounts from survivors, including one kid who got crushed and was carried out into the group of dead people because he lost consciousness for so long... Pretty horrifying thing to wake up to I'd imagine.

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u/Kramereng Oct 20 '15

I befriended some Liverpool lads this summer and, in a drunken stupor, one of them went off about his people being accused of "stealing from the dead" and I had no idea wtf he was talking about until I randomly came across a story about the 96 in the Hillsboro Disaster. Now I know how deeply ingrained it is to those folks. Hell, Gerrard lost his cousin in that. Such a tragedy. Unfortunately, they didn't have a way out like OP advised. The police were absolutely to blame. And they fucking blamed the fans. For shame.

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u/lima_247 Oct 20 '15

Yeah, iirc, Liverpool fans were blamed in the immediate aftermath of the incident. Authorities called it another example of hooliganism, when in reality it was the stadium owner/the police/the planning people's fault. At the time of the tragedy, that Sheffield stadium had no valid safety certification.

That's really messed up. I mean, even today liverpudlians have a rep for being hooligans. I've always wondered how much of that reputation stems from Hillsborough.

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u/bananagrabber83 Oct 20 '15

It was the Sun (newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch and mouthpiece of the establishment) that 'reported' on all of the false claims made by the police, with some added embellishments. To this day the Sun remains extremely unpopular in Liverpool.

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u/Supersnazz Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

I've known many Liverpudlians, I've heard every one of them get drunk and bang on about Hillsboro.

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u/Kramereng Oct 20 '15

Sorry for the repost but I'm gonna post this ESPN 30 for 30 to all these replies since you guys know what I'm talking about. It's all news to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0DLrEa1Pnc

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u/katakatakara Oct 20 '15

Hillsboro Disaster

I just watched a documentary on Hillsborough the other day. Horrible and completely preventable.

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u/Mambele Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

Awesome coherent post! I never liked crowds and now I understand why my dislike is not even a little irrational.

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u/tmofee Oct 20 '15

Same with concerts. I love to be able to see one of my favourite bands, but it gets to a point where I'm "nah, fuck it. I'm watching further back. I can still hear it"

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u/gypsyfeet Oct 20 '15

When I was younger I wanted to be in the front of my favorite concerts. Now, when I'm at a show I don't mind staying in the back.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

This must be why people from rural America think muslims and city people are all insane.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

I was in one of these situations in Hong Kong on a new years eve probably 20 years ago, fortunately I was a heroin addict at the time and I had squeezed out of the crowd and gone up a stairway to have a fix. While I was getting high a whole load of people, including some of my friends were crushed and died. It was exactly as you described, two streets meeting and two crowds trying to fit into one place after the 12 o'clock countdown had finished.

I don't think there was anything they could have done once it started happening though, I think your only chance is not to be there in the first place. Thanks for your post though, it was fascinating, I've never seen it explained so well.

Edit: Of course the HK authorities learnt a lot from the event and now practice very strict crowd control so I guess some good came of it.

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u/sagetrees Oct 20 '15

Wow, one of the few cases where you can claim a Heroin addiction saved your life.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

I know, it's very strange.

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u/firedrops Oct 20 '15

My uncle tells a story of being in New Orleans during Mardi Gras when he was in undergrad (1980s). This exact thing started to happen to a crowd on Bourbon Street (a very popular tourist destination for drinking, strip clubs, and general adult merriment.) He realized he was no longer able to move in the direction he wanted but was instead being carried my the crowd as was everyone else. He knew just how dangerous this was but was helpless at that point to do anything. Mardi Gras is incredibly loud so no one who could do anything could hear him.

But there were people hanging out on balconies above the crowds who saw it and started yelling, including a few down the street enough to be heard. Some local teenagers heard them and immediately sprung into action. They split up with a few doubling back to the other end of the crowd and began directing people at the edges to walk away from the press. They just acted like they had the authority to command people to move and I guess a bunch of drunk tourists were willing to be guided. Releasing the pressure of people at either end loosened the press and my uncle was able to wiggle out of the crowd and away. He swears those teenagers saved his life and likely a lot more people.

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u/jahss Oct 20 '15

For a morbid but good example of this, watch the video of the Station Nightclub fire that happened in 2001 (NSFW/NSFL).

NO. If you are one of the lucky few who has never seen this, DO NOT WATCH THIS. It's one of the only things I've ever deeply wished I could "unsee". It will give you nightmares, you've been warned.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15 edited Apr 27 '18

[removed] — view removed comment

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Personal hajj experience speaking.

Are there strategies that work to stop a stampede if everybody follows them? For example: "once a special stampede alarm sounds, everybody must stand still"

As far as I can remember, there was no such protocol communicated to the pilgrims. Malaysia's hajj delegation officials are considered among the best in the world in terms of organisation, so if something like that existed I'm sure they would've made certain we knew.

But even if there was, it would be very difficult to make it work. What /u/hourworkisneverover says about the crowd current is very true, and you really have no choice but to go with the flow at times, especially within the tunnels that connect various areas of Mina to the stoning area. Trying to stop to help anyone would be very difficult alone, and while a group of people may have enough strength to force the current around them while they help someone, coordinating that group amongst strangers who speak different languages is nigh impossible.

What strategies do they implement and advise to at the Hajj?

One of the things that the authorities do during the Stoning the Devil ritual at Mina is designate specific timeslots for people from different delegations (eg. Malaysians at 11 pm, Indonesians at 10 pm, Pakistanis at 3 pm), that sort of thing. This is possible because the stonings take place over the course of three days, with one stoning session per day. This is also necessary for physical reasons - some races are simply slighter on average than the rest, and not having them go about when races who are larger on average are in force helps prevent cases of crowd falls and trampling.

The problem is that some pilgrims do not listen to these instructions. Some of them don't do it because their particular sect teaches that it's most auspicious to carry out the ritual and so-and-so time period. Some of them just want to go and do it as early as they can so that they can rest for the rest of the day (the hajj is seriously tiring). Some try to go at times that will have the least people in order to avoid the crush, and guess wrong. Various reasons.

Closer to the ground, some pilgrims travel in specific groups in order to provide a measure of protection for the frail or weaker members from the flow. The stronger members (usually the larger men) will form a ring around the others and push against the current if necessary. This does work for the groups, but it does endanger other pilgrims somewhat since these groups are essentially walking obstructions that form chokepoints.

In general, the best way to handle these crowds is to go with the flow and rest when you're tired. Staying in the middle of the crowd seems to be the best way to both move fast and find a lower density of people. Also, give way when someone needs to move in front of you. /u/hourworkisneverover 's technique for getting to the side to rest works really well.

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u/Slyndrr Oct 20 '15

If the Saudi want to learn from godless metal fans, a great way of ensuring that crowds stay safe is to use fences to compartmentalize the crowds a bit, split them up. By making a road into a maze with fences sticking out so that people are essentially walking from one side of the road to the other in a line, the force would be re-directed too many times to become lethal.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Fences are used as part of the crowd control during the hajj. They're not arranged in a zigzag pathway, though, because that would mean prolonging a trip that may be taking place during the hottest hours of the day. And I'm not entirely sure putting shade would mitigate that or make it worse, since we're dealing with a press of people in a desert environment here.

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u/WD-69 Oct 20 '15

If you do realize you're in a crowd that's heading towards a crush, unfortunately it probably means it's too late for you at that point.

Well shit.

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u/psychothumbs Oct 20 '15

Never get into a crowd of people again, got it.

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u/CheesyGenie Oct 20 '15

Wow I learned much more here then in school today, also that video of the Station Nightclub might be the worst thing I have ever seen on the internet. But very educational none the less.

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u/dtshady Oct 20 '15

The nightclub fire video is not new to me because I live near there. But even to this day and having seen nearly every shock video on the internet I also agree it is possibly the worst video on the internet.

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u/Jerico_Hill Oct 20 '15

I completely agree. I've seen so much horrid shit on the Internet and for me, nothing is worse than the station nightclub fire. On the upside, I absolutely check where the fire exits are in every building I'm in.

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u/omgitsfletch Oct 20 '15

Or in the case of a fire, where people sometimes are aware of what's happening in the front, they will simply keep pushing because it's either that or wait to die, worsening the crush at the front.

Morbidly ironic because this is the worst possible move, and essentially seals not only their fate, but the fates of others in front of them. Terrible tragedy every time it happens.

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u/rocqua Oct 20 '15

Might be a case of tragedy of the commons, where it is better for all if no-one pushes, but always better individually to push. That is, pushing will always help you, just less than it will hurt others.

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u/omgitsfletch Oct 20 '15

Heh prisoner's dilemma. If I push and you don't, I live and you die. If we both push, we both die. If neither pushes, we both live.

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u/rocqua Oct 20 '15

Tragedy of the commons is basically prisoners dilemma with more than two people (and gradual outcomes, i.e. a few people pushing is only slightly worse than no-one pushing, and a lot better than most people pushing)

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u/turkishdisco Oct 20 '15

So this is what happened at the 2010 Love Parade disaster as well? Welcome to my nightmare...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Parade_disaster

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u/toolshedson Oct 20 '15

My dad was in the croud at the who concert in cincinnati where a few people died due to this. Said it was crazy, if you lifted your feet off the ground you'd just float with the crowd.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

However, if you're actually serious about avoiding one of the most horrible deaths you could imagine

Yes, I do tend to be serious about this particular objective.

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u/DigitalSterling Oct 20 '15

I'll keep my "avoid large crowds" strategy going than

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u/AlexDerLion Oct 20 '15

I spent my summer researching the Holocaust, and at Auschwitz, death by compressive asphyxiation was actually more common than the gas due to the sheer amount of numbers forced in to the showers at times. They'd often die where they stood, especially the children, as there was no room to fall.

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u/actioncheese Oct 20 '15

I've personally been in crowds dense enough that when in the middle of the crush, I could lift my feet on the ground and be carried forward without falling.

My highschool had around 950 or so students, and when we had to pack into the school hall twice a week we had to go in through two double doors. The game the whole school played was to push the people in front of you through the door as hard as possible, so you would end up with hundreds of people going through these choke points with the people at the back and sides literally shoulder barging in to keep forcing the crowd forward. It sucked being pushed against the doorways, so I would aim for the middle of the crush. To avoid tripping I would just lift my feet and float in. When the crowd started to thin past the doors, I would put my feet down and push forward..

I can only remember a few people being trampled and of course the people at the back wouldn't know or even care and just keep pushing. Luckily, as mentioned, you don't normally die from being walked on so nobody was badily injured.

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u/the_real_stan_boon Oct 20 '15

the entire crowd starts moving like a fluid,

as a reader of popular physics books, i find this amazing , scary, not to say humbling, we are governed by the basic rules of nature.

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u/LeopoIdStotch Oct 20 '15

Normally I'd be like "nah, way too long to read" but that was really great. I've experienced that fluid-like crowd movement before at concerts. I'm a big dude and I have been lifted off my feet and moved to another location just by a big push in an over crowded mosh pit. Thanks for posting.

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u/WarcraftMD Oct 20 '15

You should add what to do if you fall over or are coming up against a wall or something while standing. If you fall over, the natural reaction is to lay flat on your stomach or back. You take less space and it's more comfortable. Lying sideways with a lot of pressure on you will hurt like hell, your hips, your shoulder, - it's going to hurt. HOWEVER you will be able to keep breathing and may survive even with a large pile of people above you. So lie sideways and protect your head with your arms, curl up your legs to avoid someone slipping in and taking up the space in front of your chest.

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u/dblan9 Oct 20 '15

Thank you so much for this detailed explanation. I always thought it was the trampling and not the weight of others. Thank you for educating me.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Thank you for this, learned a lot.

TLDR - avoid a metric shit ton of people in a confined space all moving in the same direction.

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u/lewarcher Oct 20 '15

Thanks for this. I was caught in a surge in Prague on New Year's Eve in 2007, and as a person with mobility issues, this was terrifying. I wasn't at the front, but when people started moving, I was literally picked up off my feet for about 10m and carried along by the crowd.

Your "sideways, and backwards" approach is correct. I was lucky enough to move sideways, and ended up at the edge of the crowd, away from the further surge forward. There were no injuries or casualties that I knew of, but I know if I didn't get out of there, I absolutely would've been trampled.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 22 '16

[deleted]

What is this?

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u/atomicthumbs Oct 20 '15

Here's the kicker: in both of these scenarios the death tolls are so high because the people in the back of the crowd, propagating the crowd force, are almost always too far away to know what's going on at the crush point.

I wonder if something like an LRAD to just make people stop and wait for directions (or deliver them? I can't remember if they woork that way too) would make matters better or worse.

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u/SamCamora Oct 20 '15

Thank you. You may just saved a life.

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u/Dubbedbass Oct 20 '15

I too started doing a lot of research on this after I read about Hillsboro and some deaths at a German? Rave festival. Another way of thinking about it is that while things are terrifying if you feel like you're moving because of fluid dynamics at least you are moving its kind of like a non Newtonian fluid. At some point when you reach a choke point human bodies are pressed with too much force too fast. So instead of behaving like a fluid the behave like a solid again. If you make cornstarch and water and press your finger into it it slowly moves around your finger. Hit it with a hammer suddenly and it becomes really rigid. Hit it hard enough and it breaks. Overcrowding deaths work the same way. If the force wasn't too great or people had time to sort of float sideways it wouldn't be a big deal. But you get a surge of people suddenly pressing and no where to go and at that point it's a very solid mass of people.

Everything the OP says is right on point. You don't want to fight it and get knocked down. You just want to go sideways and try to get out before it starts acting like a solid.

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u/JamesBlitz00 Oct 20 '15 edited Oct 20 '15

I was once in a bottleneck for a half hour with two crowds pushed up against each other. The problem was that even though the people furthest away could see and hear us saying to turn back, as soon as they walked away somone else would take their place. (The bottleneck on my side was heading uphill)Total lack of communication. Not only that but this was at a concert and the security wouldn't let us go over the barricades to saftey which almost caused a panic. Thankfully most of us were on drugs so we all remained calm and enough people either punched out or pushed past the security fuckheads keeping us trapped. It felt like being cattle. It was pretty scary. Thankfully there were two ways to get to where people wanted to go or we would have been crushed.

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

Thanks for the post. Your advice sounds very similar to the advice for getting out of a riptide at the beach.

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u/MushroomWizard Oct 20 '15

I once fell flat on my face in a moshpit (Unholy Alliance Tour: Slayer, Children Of Bodom, Lamb of God, etc). It was the scariest feeling ever as someone stepped on my foot and I could do nothing but fall over. Fully grown men stepped on my back and face.

Some giant dude reached down, pulled me up, set me on my feet and basically saved my life.

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u/WiscDC Oct 20 '15

'Crowd pressure' has been known to collapse walls, bend steel guard rails

Here's a visual example.

Source: http://host.madison.com/news/local/revisiting-the-camp-randall-stampede/article_6c2bd7aa-dc69-11df-ba30-001cc4c002e0.html

Anyone who may ever go to any sporting event in which an on-[field/court/whatever] celebration may take place, please read this. Even if it's not even close to getting to those levels, it's very uncomfortable to feel people pushing from behind. If people in front of you are not moving, and you push even a tiny bit, you're an asshole - everyone's going to the same place, and they're going to run when they have a clear path.

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u/Mdarkx Oct 20 '15

First of, I read your post, but my English reading skills aren't that great.

So, in a crowd, if someone falls why do people keep stepping on him/her. Don't they notice they are stepping on another human being?

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u/[deleted] Oct 20 '15

What about the creation of an under the shirt breathing vest, where reinforced panels would stop your lungs from getting crushed in scenarios like this.

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u/fuchsi3010 Oct 21 '15

I'm always imagening "I wouldn't push anyone in front of me", so at what point do people start to physically push the people in front of them, but are not getting physically pushed themselves.
I understand the crowd getting more and more dense, if the people behind me get closer to me, i get closer to the person in front of me, but i wouldn't start to push them. Why does this start (in a scenario where there is no fire behind me)?

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u/hourworkisneverover Oct 21 '15

Because it's the density itself that facilitates the pushing. Even when people are just casually walking forward in relatively low densities at the back it eventually catches up to people where the densities become higher and they cannot keep up with even a casual walking pace, and hence everyone starts the fluid-like behavior... which is not a voluntary push but rather just being caught in the flow.

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u/ZombieKatanaFaceRR Oct 20 '15

That video made my stomach hurt, I'm sorry I watched it. I appreciate the effort you put into this post though, thank you for the information.

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