Report: November 18th Yau Ma Tei Stampede

Findings

  • There were at least two stampedes on November 18th.
    • The worst was at Yau Ma Tei at roughly 23:30
    • There was another one at Nathan Hotel that we think happened at 21:30
  • Even at the Yau Ma Tei site, there were multiple ‘pileups.’
  • A flashbang grenade was used on Nathan Road about 2-3 minutes after the stampede started.
  • The ‘Three White Vans‘ incident happened almost ninety minutes later.

Background

On November 18th, nearly everything west of Nathan Road between Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Tsa Tsui became an urban battlefield as protesters and citizens tried to break the police siege of PolyU. The entire day was chaotic, there were approximately 1400 arrests on November 17th and 18th, along with 354 people sent to the hospital for injuries—the youngest being an infant. Neighborhoods like Tsim Tsa Shui East saw tear gas canisters fired repeatedly for up to twelve hours. The night ended with surreal scenes of almost a dozen people tied up on a rooftop at 4am. 31 people were sent to the hospital from the Yau Ma Tei stampede. We also found another, earlier, stampede and pileup at Nathan Hotel.

161 firefighters and paramedics were sent to the Yau Ma Tei stampede and 31 people were sent to 7 hospitals, including 17 red cases. An unknown number went to the Secret Clinic network for treatment. Police deny that a stampede took place, saying that “some rioters fell.”

Yau Ma Tei

The footage we’ve found begins at 23:19 near the intersection of Waterloo Road & Nathan Road. There is a raging battle being waged between protesters using Molotovs paired with what we believe are portable stove gas canisters on one side and police with rubber bullets on the other. There are about 35 meters of distance between protesters and the police cordon.

At roughly 23:21:30 the footage shows protesters running out of the east side of Pitt Street, near Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit A2, and are quickly followed by Special Tactical Squad (STS) riot police, known as Raptors. They reach the east side of the intersection of Nathan Road & Pitt Street at 23:23, roughly 100 meters north of the clash on Waterloo Road & Nathan Road. When they reach Nathan Road, protesters at the Waterloo Road clash begin to run in many directions. Within 10 seconds there’s a pileup of protesters trying to get over the Nathan Road barricade between Waterloo Road & Pitt Street.

Let’s clarify terms first. By ‘stampede’, we mean people running confusedly in different directions. By ‘pile-up’ we mean people running into each other with some falling. By ‘crush’ we mean people stacked on top of each other. By 23:23:50, less than a minute after Raptors showed up on the east side of Pitt Road & Nathan Road, a stampede begins across Nathan Road. Reports that Raptors had been spotted spread to people at the Nathan Road and Waterloo Road intersection and a stampede begins within 10-15 seconds. As many as a hundred protesters realize they’re running into Raptors on the eastern side of Nathan Road and a pileup occurs along about 50 meters of the Nathan Road barrier separating the lanes.

The footage does not show when, exactly, the Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit A1 alley pileup transforms into a crush or how it started. By 23:23:30 there is a video showing the small alley. People on Nathan Road are still trying to get into the alley, and this becomes a pileup itself along Nathan Road. By 23:24:33 police have reached this pileup and can be seen beating people. When the crowd thins, it’s clear several people have fallen over along Nathan Road. By 24:24:40, people are still trying to get into the Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit A1 alleyway but traffic is completely blocked. The flashbang goes off five seconds later at 23:24:45 approximately 25 meters away from the Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit A1 alley crush site.

Causes

We have analyzed several theories of what might have happened and compared it to the footage. To begin with, we should make absolutely clear the “Three White Vans” were 90 minutes later and somewhere else. Many prominent social media accounts continue to report that the vans were the proximate cause of the stampede which is inaccurate. An eyewitness named Cody said that the flashbang caused the stampede off of Nathan Road and that the crush was caused by one person tripping in the Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit A1 alley. Unless there was another flashbang that we haven’t identified, the footage is very clear: the alleyway had already become a crush at least a minute before the flashbang is used.

RTHK recently aired a program that interviewed eyewitnesses to the Yau Ma Tei crush. One claimed that there were police at Portland Street & Pitt Street, behind Exit A1 if Nathan Road is the ‘front.’ We explored a similar theory that maybe some protesters were being chased down Portland Street that we can’t see, ran into Pitt Street to escape them, and smashed into protesters escaping Nathan Road. At around 23:23:30-45, people are running out of the alley. However, they appear to be turning around and there’s no photographic or video evidence that police were on that side of Pitt Street at the time.

Cody’s Eyewitness Account

An unpublished interview with a volunteer First Aider, Cody, which we have reviewed claims:

  • 30-40 people were piled up (31 went to the hospital).
  • The pile was “about 7-8 people deep,” which he estimates to be 900 lbs / 400 kg of pressure on top of the people on the bottom.
  • The people on the bottom couldn’t breathe and their eyes were rolling behind their heads.
  • They couldn’t physically couldn’t pull people from the bottom because of the pressure, so had to pull out people in the middle.
  • They pulled six people out before police arrived.
  • The police, upon arrival, pushed a female first aider to the ground, kept firefighters away, began beating the victims, and then arrested them one by one.

Police Response

Aside from the sequence of the flashbang, Cody’s account seems to reflect what is seen in the footage. No EMTs or ambulances are seen in any of the footage we have, which continues almost ten minutes after the stampede begins. There are firefighters seen nearby—in fact, two were standing where the flashbang went off—but are not seen helping victims until six minutes after it begins. As we saw with the Alex Chow footage, police seemed singularly focused on making arrests and did not treat the situation with the medical seriousness of a mass casualty incident.

We will have a separate report on their medical treatment delays later.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Report: November 18th Yau Ma Tei Stampede

  1. Hi,

    I am a researcher looking for video footage of 18/11 between 10:30-11:00am near Austin Ave. there was a fire there and we are helping the owner of the flat to reconstruct that day, wondering if you have material of that morning next Austi Avenue?

    Thank you!
    Amy

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