BEIJING (AP) — China's financial hub of Shanghai said Sunday it was canceling its famed Lunar New Year lantern festival in the wake of a stampede that left 36 people dead.
The announcement illustrates the spreading effects of the Jan. 1 disaster, in which surging crowds trampled people along the city's legendary Bund riverfront walkway.
Events as far away as in Beijing have been canceled and security tightened in subway stations and other crowded public spaces.
The upcoming three-day festival in the city's Yuyuan Garden, a warren of narrow alleys and ancient buildings in the heart of the ancient walled Chinese city, drew more than 1.3 million people in 2013. The lantern festival comes on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year marking the close of the annual festivities.
The festivities typically draw massive, sometimes unruly crowds and in 2004, 37 people were killed in a stampede in the Beijing suburb of Miyun.
The company that runs the Yuyan Garden and the Shanghai city government said in separate statements that the event was being canceled out of "safety concerns."
Neither directly mentioned the stampede, pointing to official worries over continuing public outrage over security lapses and a lack of government explanations.
Authorities allowed only one day of tightly-controlled public mourning at the site, which has since been fenced off on the pretext of making aesthetic improvements.
Some victims' family members and others have reported being followed and harassed by security personnel, a typical tactic by authorities who tolerate little criticism and fear any chance of unrest coalescing around sympathy for those killed.