A charity buffet coupon giveaway was held at the Pudu Integrated Commercial Complex hawker centre yesterday (Jan 28). The organizer planned to give out 200 free meals with coupons dated on February 11. Sadly, the well-intended charity programme turned fatal with two deaths as there were over 1,000 people fighting to get their hands on the free meal passes.
It is learned that the organizer initially arranged men and women applicants to stand in two rows but the four security guards they hired were unable to handle to the oversized crowd. No one obeyed the instructions as the registration time closed in at 11am.
The Chinese daily talked to the witnesses at the scene and one saw an old man threw his own small chair into the crowd as it is believed that the man was dissatisfied with someone who cut his line.
Some members of the public said they heard someone calling for help during the incident. They tried to lift the old woman and the old man who fell to the ground from the crowd, but they could not get through the crowd.
They said that they continued to put the wounded on the side, including the two elderly women who were later pronounced dead.
“But everyone has limited knowledge for first aid. Only wait for the ambulance to come to the scene. We regret that we can’t save the two old women. Such a tragedy should not happen,” said a passerby.
At the time, an off-duty police officer happened to be at the area during lunch break. He is reportedly an officer from Bukit Aman money-laundering unit and he was in plain clothes during the incident.
He passed by the scene with a friend and saw numerous senior citizens had fallen to the ground. When he saw an elderly woman collapsed, he quickly sent her to the hospital along with his friend.
Before he took off, he saw another elderly lady fainted but due to the chaotic scene and urgency, he did not think too much and took the woman at hand to the hospital.
Following the news of the two deaths, the police officer regretted that he did not take another elderly woman to the hospital at the time. He blamed himself for failing to save one more life.
The organizer stopped the giveaway after the incident and the police also arrived at the scene to investigate the cause.
It is learned that the organizer has held this Chinese New Year buffet event for many years, aiming to entertain the elderly. The organizer said it was the first time for the giveaway to cause the crowd riled up and ultimately taking two lives.
The crowd of the giveaway consisted mostly of senior citizens aged above 60.