Aryana Sofea
March 4, 2020
4 minutes

Concerts and festivals allow people to make memories they’ll cherish forever. Dancing, headbanging, singing together with your friends to your favourite artists - being in that euphoric state the whole concert long is what keeps ‘em coming back. But sometimes, these fun nights may turn into tragedy. The RedTix insight’s team brings you the worst festival disasters around Asia. 

Future Music Asia Festival (FMFA) - A State Of Trance Event 

Country: Malaysia

Year: 2014

Death Toll: 6

An exhilarating festival with transcending EDM  DJs, A State Of Trance Festival aka ASOT was one of the biggest music events in Malaysia. Everyone, especially the fans were in for a shock as well as a disappointment as the festival was cancelled on the third and last day of the festival. 

The cancellation was largely due to the deaths that were reported in the media, which led to the calling off of the third day of FMFA 2014, for the sake of the health and safety of all festival-goers. 

6 festival-goers were announced dead with 10 others who had to be rushed to the hospital after fainting at the 3-day festival. The authorities were quick to lay blame on drugs being the cause of deaths due to the presence of MDMA and ecstasy in the victim’s systems even though the dosage found in their system did not reach the average recreational level of 0.1 to 0.25 microgram to millilitre. 

The actual cause of death was heatstroke and dehydration. With prices of water rivalling with alcohol prices (which were cheaper!), many would, of course, choose the latter.  With that being said, make sure to keep yourself hydrated when you attend festivals and concerts! 

Pangyo Techno Valley Festival

Country: South Korea

Year: 2014

Death Toll: 16

What was meant to be a night of celebrating Techno Pop became a funeral for 16 unfortunate music fans who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Fans at an outdoor concert space, U-Space, climbed atop a ventilation shaft grating for a better view of Kpop girl group 4 Minute’s show and when the metal grating caved in. 26 of them fell 10 meters down into the shaft. It took the lives of 16 fans with 10 other fans in critical condition.

A local fire official was quoted as saying by South Korea’s Yonhap News agency, "Twelve people were killed at the scene, two others died while they were being rushed to the hospital. Others are assumed to have passed away while receiving medical treatment,". 

This tragic accident highlights the importance of proper safety measures and the repercussions of lax attention towards it.

Photo by Park Young-Dae-Donga Daily via Getty Images

Santika’s Last Night

Country: Thailand

Year: 2009

Death Toll: 66

We always want to celebrate the coming of a new year as lit as possible and this club literally did that. This New Year Inferno tragically happened at a famous Bangkok night-club, Santika, back in 2009. With over 1000 attendees and staff members, the death was mainly due to smoke inhalation, burns as well as being crushed in the stampede of people frantically trying to exit the building. Some faced harder fates as some bodies were charred beyond recognition. 66 people died that night, with 100 others gravely injured. They were trapped in a building with no sprinklers, no fire exits and no emergency lights. 

The root of the problem was the management of the night-club. It was operating in an illegal zone for nightclubs and it was officially licensed as a private residence (and not an entertainment hub), hence there no fire safety inspections, and to make matters worse, the building design approval was forged. Also, corruption in management also leads to this horrific night happening as past police charges against the club were not attended to and one of whose recent shareholders, clearly listed in company documents, is a senior police officer, Colonel Prayont Lapua. 

Coincidentally, the name of the event, Santika’s Last Night literally brought about the fiery end of the infamous night club.

Beijing Lantern Festival 

Country: Beijing

Year: 2004

Death Toll: 37 

What was supposed to be a harmonious lantern-filled night sky celebration with family and loved ones took a dark turn when a spectator tripped on an open grate and fell, causing a frenzied panic and a domino-effect of people falling upon each other. The 2004 Miyun Stampede happened at Mihong Park, Beijing during the Spring Lantern Festival. The Spring Lantern Festival is to commemorate the final day of the Chinese New Year Celebrations, however, it became a grim night that resulted in 37 deaths and 15 injured persons.

Thousands of people had gathered to enjoy the lanterns that were exclusively prepared for this annual event. After all the commotion, there was a grieving silence, with constant shouts from frantic parents who were seen searching for their children as well as the elderlies. 

“One person fell down on a grate in the park and caused many people to fall down, there was a stampede. It was a lot of people. I'm not sure how many. These things are packed” Wu Kun, a spokesman for the Beijing city government, told The Associated Press on Friday morning.

Khmer Water Festival

Country: Cambodia

Year: 2010

Death Toll: 347 

One of the most gruesome tragedies to happen, the Khmer Water Festival Stampede has a death toll of almost 350 people and over 750 people were injured. This 3-day Water Festival was to celebrate the end of the monsoon season as well as the semi-annual reversal flow of the Tonlé Sap river. 4 million people had attended the festival located at Koh Pich also known as Diamond Island, excited to watch the thrilling boat races and enjoy a concert.

The main cause of the stampede was panic - however, there are variations on what initially started the panic. A journalist from the Phnom Penh Post states that the cause of the stampede was due to police forces firing a water cannon into people on the bridge in an attempt to force them to move off the bridge after it began swaying, which had triggered panic among those on it. 

A witness says that while the people were trying to get away, some had pulled down electrical wires and that lead to death by electrocution. Doctor’s reports also prove that besides suffocation, electrocution was also the primary cause of death. 

Khieu Kanharith, the Information Minister said that the stampede began after several people fell unconscious on the extremely packed island and panic erupted. 

When massive crowds gather, tragic events are prone to happen as proven by the countless disasters from festivals that have happened around the world. However, complications could be avoided or lessened by good management of the mass movement of the crowds. The failure of controlling the crowds as well as ignoring the potential aggressive behaviours by the crowds will always be the issues highlighted in the importance of being responsible towards adequate crowd safety management.