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About sixty people have been injured during a crowd surge at Birmingham's Christmas lights switch-on.

More than 20,000 people turned out for the event at Millennium Point, which had been due to feature acts including JLS and the Sugababes.

A city council spokesperson said more people than expected had turned out and they had feared for crowd safety.

Reports suggested up to 27,000 people were at the site by the time band JLS finished performing at 1330 GMT.

The council said a combination of fears over the number of people and bad weather led them to cancel the event.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said four people were taken to hospital and a further 56 patients were assessed by ambulance crews in a make-shift triage area.

'Absolute chaos'

A spokeswoman said a woman in her 30s suffered serious crush injuries to her pelvis, shoulder and leg.

A second woman suffered a broken ankle, a teenage boy had a broken wrist and a teenage girl suffered crush injuries to her back and legs.

Martin Krol, who lives in a flat overlooking Millennium Point, said he saw people pushing at a fence at the front of the crowd.

He said: "Police had already stopped people from going through into the main bit because there were so many of them, so an extra line of people had been created at the back of the main crowd.
"The police were totally outnumbered - there were far too many people in the crowd for them to be able to cope.

"It was absolute chaos - the ambulances couldn't get through - and it took quite a while for them to be able to clear the area because there were so many people.

"We saw people who had been knocked unconscious and carried out into ambulances. One person was carried out on a spinal board - and we saw a police officer injured too."

The area around Millennium Point has now been cleared and emergency crews were urging people to stay away from the area.

A council spokesman said the gates were closed after the square reached its capacity.

'Very sorry'

An emergency meeting was held between the council, emergency services and the joint organisers, radio station BRMB, and a decision was made to cancel the event.

Joan Durose, head of events at the city council, said: "We are very sorry that the event has had to be cancelled. We know that people will be very disappointed, but the health and safety of the thousands of young people at the event was our prime concern."

Leisure Sport and Culture chief Councillor Martin Mullaney said he fully supported the decision to abandon the concerts.

"I would sooner read headlines about red faces than read headlines about a tragedy.

"I'm sorry a lot of people went home disappointed and there will be a full investigation into what went wrong and what lessons can be learned for the future but I must stress that this was the correct decision in the circumstances," he said.

Other acts that had been scheduled to appear as part of the five-hour event included Calvin Harris, Tinchy Stryder, Natalie Imbruglia, Chipmunk, Girls Can't Catch, Little Boots, The Saturdays, Alexandra Burke, The Noisettes, Taio Cruz and Pixie Lott.

The night was due to finish with a fireworks display.

Prior to the event, a statement on the city council website said: "In order to keep the area safe for everyone West Midlands Police have asked people not to bring their own alcohol, and not to bring valuables with them as a precaution.

"They hope people will refrain from any pushing and shoving, so that people of all ages can enjoy the concert comfortably."

The city's Christmas lights are now due to be switched on in Birmingham's High Street at 1630 GMT on Sunday.
Source: BBC

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