Tragedy has again tempered a time of hope and optimism with mass mourning. Think of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, the 2012 National Day ferry disaster and the 1992-93 New Year's Eve stampede in Lan Kwai Fong. Sadly our thoughts and prayers are needed again this festive season, this time for the victims, families and friends of the 36 people who lost their lives in the New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai's riverside area. President Xi Jinping reflected the national mood of shock and incomprehension when he ordered the authorities in Shanghai to do all in their power to help injured survivors and investigate the cause of the stampede. Meanwhile, the China National Tourism Administration has demanded that tourist spots across the nation ensure proper crowd-control measures. This promises to be a key issue. Only the previous week state media reported that the annual New Year's Eve countdown on the historic Bund riverfront, which normally attracts about 300,000, would be replaced by a toned-down version with less public access because of crowd-control issues. The stampede was near that area. Perhaps partly as a result of that decision, Shanghai police admit having underestimated just how many people would gather and deploying fewer officers than for other major events. This should prompt serious reflection by higher authorities, including the Shanghai government, since public order is not only the responsibility of the police. Thousands of people crowded onto a terrace on the Bund to watch a light show on the opposite side of the Huangpu River. A stampede broke out on stairs linking the terrace with a square below, trapping hundreds in a crush as they tried to move up and down the stairs. It was reminiscent of the awful night in Lan Kwai Fong when some of a crowd of 20,000 pushed down a steep, slippery slope, causing people to fall on top of one another. Hindsight may be futile, but the words of Justice Kemal Bokhary, who presided over the inquiry into the 21 Lan Kwai Fong deaths, do resonate. Arguing that policemen must be able to move freely among crowds on foot, he said "it is difficult to see how they can effectively discharge their crowd control duty or indeed their general duty ... " otherwise. Likewise if they are not present in a force relative to the size of the gathering. It is to be hoped that the investigation is fair and independent. This is not only for the victims' sake, but offers the best chance of preventing similar tragedies in future.