Shanghai cancels lantern festival after stampede

SHANGHAI - China's commercial hub Shanghai has cancelled a popular annual outdoor festival over safety concerns, after a New Year's eve stampede in the city killed 36 people.

Organisers called off the lantern festival event at the Yu Gardens "based on considerations of safety," they said on an official microblog on Saturday.

A New Year's stampede on the city's historic waterfront killed at least 36 revellers and injured dozens more, mostly women, raising questions over why authorities failed to enforce better safety measures.

Shanghai's government has since announced tougher registration procedures for large or crowded events, which can be cancelled if safety rules are violated. 

The Lantern Festival falls 15 days after the Lunar New Year and can attract as many as 60,000 visitors a day, according a state media.

The event, which has been held for more than a decade, is known for its heavy crowds, with local listings website Smart Shanghai describing it as "not for the claustrophobic".

Shanghai's mayor said the New Year's eve crush was a "bloody lesson" for the city, after his administration was criticised for mismanaging the celebrations.

Several events have been scrapped in the wake of the Shanghai stampede, including a fireworks display that was set to launch a spectacular Ice and Snow festival in the northeastern city of Harbin this week.