It never occurred to Zhu Zhihua that he would experience such chaos in the city in which he and his friends had long hoped of living and working. The 23-year-old man came to Shanghai with three friends from his hometown in Jiangxi province just a few days ago to look for a job, only for two of the friends to go missing in the deadly New Year’s Eve stampede. It took Zhu 10 hours of searching and waiting at various hospitals to find one of them, Wang Xiuxiu, who was being treated in Ruijin Hospital. Wang had been injured in the stampede and was unable to speak because of the physical trauma. But Zhu still could not find another friend, a woman who was with Wang as they watched the light show together for the first time. “It has been so chaotic, with the police and at the hospitals,” Zhu said, complaining that he went to five hospitals yesterday morning and had to go to one three times before they confirmed Wang was there. “Shanghai has left me with such a bad impression – the organisation is so poor.” Zhu said Huangpu District Central Hospital told him that his missing woman friend had been sent to another medical centre but the staff had no idea which one it was. “I have been so anxious all day,” he said. Zhu was not alone in his search for answers. Many relatives were caught up in the confusion and some had to wait outside hospitals for nearly 12 hours to find out their condition. At Changzheng Hospital, more than 30 people waited, believing that relatives missing since the stampede had been sent there. They wanted to go in to check but they were told by a hospital official that the medical facility could not allow the families in if their relatives were not on its list of injured patients. “My daughter’s boyfriend saw her sent to your hospital’s emergency room. He knelt down and begged you to let him in to see her, but you wouldn’t. Now you tell me that she isn’t at your hospital. Where is she? Has she evaporated?” a Shanghai woman demanded of the official. “Are you sure that people not on the list are not at your hospital? Can you take responsibility for every word you have said?” Many families waiting at two other hospitals – the Shanghai No1 People’s Hospital and Huangpu District Central Hospital – said the police showed them photos of the dead and injured, helping with the identification process. The Changzheng Hospital official, who would not give his name, said the hospital did not take photos of the victims because they wanted to protect their patients’ privacy. “Can’t you let us enter the ward and just have a look to see if our relatives are there? Can’t you agree to such a small request?” the Shanghai woman said. About a quarter of an hour later, the hospital agreed to let one representative from each family in to check whether their relative was there. Representatives were told to queue up to be taken to the wards as well as the morgue and only one person was allowed in at a time. When most of the representatives returned to those gathered in the emergency department, they had the worst possible news – their missing relatives were dead inside. Families burst into tears and wailed. “Just now they said [my daughter] was not here. Now I find out that she is dead. What can I do?” the Shanghai woman cried. “She is just 24!” At Shanghai No1 People’s Hospital, dozens of relatives confronted police officers and the hospital’s security guards after long hours of waiting, according to a police officer from the Songjiang district police bureau. “Some relatives were in a very emotional state and wanted to know the condition of the injured … They rushed in and things got out of hand for a while,” one officer wrote on his microblog. He called for calm so the victims could recover, adding “we’re also deeply sad about this … but please control your emotions.” Many internet users backed the call for calm, asking friends and families to stay under control at the hospital. “We have more than 1.3 billion people, 1 billion more than the United States, but our people’s standard of civil behaviour lags well behind our economic growth,” a Shanghai resident wrote online.