Balloon drop sparks stampede, five hospitalised in Aus

Five people were hospitalised after Christmas shoppers were crushed in a midnight balloon drop of gift vouchers at a Sydney suburban shopping centre

Representative image. (Pixabay Photo)

Five people were hospitalised after Christmas shoppers were crushed in a stampede in a midnight balloon drop of gift vouchers at a Sydney suburban shopping centre.

Video footage depicted people at the Westfield Parramatta shopping centre jostling for gold, silver and white balloons containing the gift cards. As the crowd surged, shoppers were sent sprawling, including one person dressed as Santa Claus.

Jonathan Nott, who took the footage, said he was worried someone would get hurt as the crowd mustered.

"It did not look like a very safe area for a large crowd to scramble for balloons", he said.

Around 12 people required treatment from the paramedics called to the scene. Four men and one woman were taken to the hospital.

"Three of the transported patients suffered from more serious injuries- including traumatic chest injuries, neck and back pain as well as nausea and dizziness," NSW Ambulance Inspector Phil Templeman said in a statement.

Scentre Group, which owns the Westfield chain in Australia, said that it was investigating the incident.

"The safety of our customers, retail partners and people is our priority," a spokeswoman said.

"Our team acted swiftly to support our customers, contact emergency services and make the area safe. Our team is continuously speaking with affected customers directly", she added.

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