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Stampede at Shanghai New Year’s celebration kills 35

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A family member (C) cries on a bench at a hospital where some of the victims of a stampede by new year's revellers were sent in Shanghai on January 1, 2015. A stampede by New Year's revellers in Shanghai's historic riverfront area killed 35 people and injured dozens more, the city government said on January 1. (Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

BEIJING, China (CNN) — At least 35 people were killed in a stampede at a New Year’s celebration in Shanghai, China, state media reported.

The stampede happened at about 11:35 p.m. Wednesday in a riverfront area known as the Bund, the state-run Xinhua news agency said. At least 42 people were injured, Xinhua reported.

Authorities are investigating the cause, Xinhua said.

A witness told the government-run news agency that people started scrambling after coupons that looked like dollar bills were thrown from the third floor of a building.

Reports of the stampede appeared on Twitter and China’s Weibo social network, with posts describing a chaotic scene and rescue efforts.

Photos showed massive crowds packing a street near the river and emergency medical workers treating people on the ground.

Many of the dead were young students, CCTV America reported, citing Shanghai rescue authorities. Video from the Reuters news agency showed people sobbing in a hospital waiting room.

The famous promenade along the Huangpu River is a popular spot for New Year’s Eve festivities in Shanghai, China’s most-populous urban area.

But last week, Shanghai Daily reported that local officials had called off a popular New Year’s Eve light show there, citing police concerns over crowd control. Last year, the event drew nearly 300,000 people and “dispersing the crowd became a massive administrative headache,” the newspaper said.

Scaled-back celebrations had been planned in several parts of the city instead, according to the newspaper.

Officials canceled another New Year’s celebration late Wednesday in front of Beijing’s tallest skyscraper, citing safety concerns.

Even with the light show and official countdown called off, many revelers remained at the location and had their own countdown there.

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