DESPERATION may have driven the thousands of poor Filipinos gambling their economic fortunes, if not their very survival, on the game show "Wowowee" to storm the gates at the PhilSports Arena (formerly Ultra) during the show’s first anniversary last Saturday, but narrow exits, the lack of exit plans and coordination ensured the tragic fate met by 74 who perished and hundreds more who were injured in the early-morning stampede.

A group of scientists made this observation even as a government-formed investigating team is set to submit today its own findings on the Wowowee tragedy. The Samahan ng Nagtataguyod ng Agham at Teknolohiya para sa Sambayanan (Agham) said that last Saturday’s disaster had all the ingredients of a panic-induced stampede.

"Narrow exits, lack of coordination, absence of exits plans, movement in multiple directons combined with a strong desire to reach an objective due to poverty is a recipe for panic-induced stampede," said Dr. Giovanni Tapang, a physicist at the National Institute of Physics of the University of the Philippines and chairperson of Agham.

Tapang, who has coauthored several papers on panic exit dynamics, claimed that the results of a NIP study he did with Dr. Caesar Paloma, Gay Perez, Dr. May Lim, and Dr. Cynthia Palmes-Saloma demonstrated in both simulation and actual experiments with mice that panic-induced clogging at exits or passageways can be triggered by the following factors:

  • Width and design of passageways
  • Exit plan
  • Amount of panic or drive to reach the exit

A narrow exit, Tapang said, can only result in a collective slow-down among pedestrians crossing each other’s paths that reduces the number of people who can exit. This could have been minimized if guided railings near the entrances or entryways were placed far enough from each other, something that Tapang noted was lacking at the Wowowee show.

Tapang said it was also evident that people were not provided a clear exit plan, without which, and as the NIP experiments show, "exiting agents tended to follow their nearest neighbor" and led to the rapid clogging at the gate.

"The number of people is important although a panic-induced stampede can occur even in rooms with 30 people in it given  the right conditions," Tapang added.

But the amount of panic in those trying to reach the exit is the biggest factor. As the results of the NIP studies suggest, the increase in the "panic parameter" (the drive to reach the exit) lessened the number of people who can manage to get through the passageway.

The NIP studies can be downloaded here and here, and were cited here.

13 Responses to Panic-induced stampede aggravated by narrow exits, lack of exit and crowd control plans — scientists



February 7th, 2006 at 3:30 pm

i beg to differ with abs-cbn’s staunch defenders who claim that the network DID NOT expect and NEVER KNEW that thousands would flock to the venue. A day before the event, ABS-CBN’s sky patrol reported it live on MUP – the “wowowee diehards” lining up for the event. The network INVITED them. They wanted to show the world how popular the program was. Despite the fact that they knew that Ultra could not possibly accommodate all spectators who came, they still enticed them to storm the venue, luring them with millions and millions of prizes. Indeed, it was an accident waiting to happen. Unfortunately for abs-cbn, the accident did happen. And now this…

It is not enough that abs-cbn shoulder the hospitalization or the the burial expenses. For God’s sake, LIVES were lost. Dozens of lives were lost.

ABS-CBN must be held liable. Ultra must be held liable. They must pay for their neglect.

Accidents such as these are avoidable.
Pero bakit nangyari?
Dahil sa kapabayaan.

Huwag na muna nating ilayo ang isyu.
Huwag na munang haluan ng pulitika ang kaganapan.
Kung sisisihin ninyo ang poverty sa pangyayari, then i dare you to persecute poverty.

Hindi ako naninisi.
Pero may dapat managot.
Definitely, not the throngs of wowowee fans who trooped to ultra.

Not the president.
Not the lowly guards on duty.

Alam na natin kung sino.



February 8th, 2006 at 2:36 am

Definitely the organizers (ABS-CBN) and the Events Security guards should be held liable for the tragedy. They were not qualified to handle that kind of a situation. The people should also be partly to blame especially those at the back. Nasabihan na sila na hindi na sila makakapasok pero nagpumilit pa rin. Gusto pa nilang makalamang sa mga nasa unahan kaya nakipagsiksikan sila at nakipagtulakan. No wonder na karamihan sa mga nasawi ay mga babae. Sabi ng DILG, they were treated like animals. Those were strong words. Ang tanong ko, were they provided with portable toilets and drinking water stations. I heard from the reports that thousands of people were already in the queue 5 to 6 days before the event. That people were doing their personal stuff on the line for fear of losing their spot. The least that the organizers could have done is to provide them with portable toilets and drinking stations to ease their inconveniences.

ABS-CBN are doing their best to ease the pains of those who have been hurt and those who have lost their love ones. They have shouldered the responsibility and are acting accordingly. Are they doing enough? That is for those people who have been hurt to decide not us?



February 8th, 2006 at 3:39 am

I accept that ABS-CBN has liability sa stampede na nangyari pero wag nyong alisin sa eksena ang local government at pulis sa eksena. Ang local government din ay may pananagutan kasi di naman nagkulang sa paghingi ng permiso ang network..ang problema itong local government ay walang pakialam sa mga nangyayari.

Sabi nyo nga halos isang linggo nang nakapila ang mga tao at doon na rin mismo sa pila nila ginagawa ang mga personal na tawag ng kalikasan at pagkain..ang tanong ko lang, wala bang ni isang taga-gobyerno o pulis na nagronda para malaman ang sitwasyon? Sa permisong ibinigay ng local government ay nasasaad dito na merong limitasyon ang mga tao sa paggamit ng kalye at outside sa permitted perimeter ay pulis na ang may kontrol nito. Ang pulis ang may discretion kung papaalisin nila ang tao o hindi na nasasakupan ng kanilang controlled areas.

Ang report ng Investigative committee ay napaka-bias! Hugas-kamay ang mga pulis kasi kasama sa kumite si Kengkoy Querol!

Gantihan na lang ang nangyayari ngayon kaya kawawang ABS-CBN kasi umeepal na naman si Gagonzales at Ermitanyo.


Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Philippines: After the Stampede

February 8th, 2006 at 9:26 am

[…] Filipino bloggers continue to be focused on the tragic deaths last weekend of over 70 people last weekend during a stampede in a crowd waiting to get into a popular TV game show. Divergent Poles has the weepy statements of the game show host and TV network exec. Filipino Librarian directs her anger at a network employee who said it was the crowd’s fault. There’s more at the PCIJ blog, Manuel L. Quezon III and Howie Severino. […]



February 8th, 2006 at 10:21 pm

I won’t comment on the stampede it does not help the victims. nalilito lang sila. they don’t know where to listen. Who’s right or wrong. Lahat magagaling.

Let us just pray for all of the victims. ALL means those who died, the families the injured. those who suffer in pain physically and mentally.
those from WOWOWEE staff, ULTRA, PNP, City of Pasig, Resident of the area. etc etc. All are victims…

Just pray…..Amen



February 9th, 2006 at 2:52 pm

I WOULD HAVE LIKE TO POST THIS TO ABS-CBN website. But because they are not fair and balance, they did not post it. They only post comments that are good to them. Almost putting them in the pedestal.

Here is my comment:

I know that you will not post my message since I am going to criticize your company. It will just be in your conscience to be fair. I think ABS-CBN is largely to be blame for this stampede. There was no proper organization and preparations for the event to ensure the safety of the people. They were not concerned for the safety of the people but only the fame and ratings of the show. I think ABS-CBN is legally liable for the injury and deaths of the people during the stampede. ABS-CBN should be sued for millions, if not billions of pesos to compensate the victims of this terrible stampede. I would encourage lawyers I know to see the possibilities of this legitimate lawsuit.

One thing I know that ABS-CBN and its partners in the media are doing the cover up. They are trying to put the blame on others like the government and even solely to the President Gloria Arroyo. They are still doing the same thing that they are use to have been doing for years, the good old Media Bias. They know that they can get away with anything even this awful tragedy having 80 people dead. No conscience at all. If ABS-CBN is really sincere in helping the families of victims. They will make sure to pay each victim at least five to ten million pesos. I am sure they have money to pay the victims from the profits of advertisements and their subscribers outside the Philippines. In fact, I used to pay $20 a month to watch their shows. Not anymore. I am no longer willing to subscribe and give this company anymore money to support the manipulation, blatant disregard and disrespect of the poor Filipinos. In the best of my abilities, I will make sure to encourage others and to follow my lead to cancel their subscriptions with ABS-CBN.

I know that ABS-CBN will just try to put the blame on the people and the victims. They will just say that the people were unruly and that they were not disciplined enough to follow the rules. They were just poor Filipinos and doesn’t know any better. Typical elitist thinking. Silly as this may seem, they know that others will believe this scenario and that eventually people will forget this awful tragedy. Blame it again on the people especially the poor and the Government but never the MEDIA specifically ABS-CBN. Im sorry I know better. I will never again be a victim of the MEDIA BIAS and their elitist agenda.

I know that even in your own website, you do not post any news that is related to the awful stampede that would anyway reflect a bad light to ABS-CBN. In fact one of your headline Celebrity news is “MTRCB hits Joey de Leon for stampede remarks”. This a typical Media bias. This is trying to deflect the attention of the tragedy to someone else and not to ABS-CBN. You are trying to manipulate the importance and facts of the stampede and avoid the Truth of what really happened. Instead ABS-CBN wants to talk about the not so important news like Joey de Leon’s remarks. Who the hell cares of what Joey de Leon’s said! I just want the truth of this awful stampede that cause 80 lives of Filipinos whether they are rich or poor. To me there is no difference. To me this could be your parents, your children, your friends and your families. I want somebody to be responsible, someone has to pay for this. If ABS-CBN has conscience they should pay the victims families millions, if not billions of pesos.




February 10th, 2006 at 8:20 am

I am writing to you this blog to commend the chairman of TFC for accepting responsibility for the recent mishap at the Ultra. Mr Lopez’ acceptance of responsibility is admirable.

I am a former TFC subscriber in Concord, California. I moved to another location in the bay area, which unfortunately is not currently covered by my local cable provider. These days, I am able to enjoy some of ABS-CBN’s television programming through its affiliate, KTSF in San Francisco, which airs Philippine daily news and a couple of other noon-time shows during the weekend.

From an outsider’s point of view, it is clear to me that ABS-CBN would not have been able to take sole ownership of the crowd control for the event. It also appears to me that the initial fact-finding board appointed by the government might have lacked all the facts because of the deadline they were given.

My prayers go out to the family of those who were affected by the mishap. In my view however, one must realize that this was a mishap. No one was forced to go to attend the TV show out of his or her own will.

I am certain that the Arroyo government has every good intention to have the mishap investigated. Mrs. Arroyo is a great leader – and she is looked highly upon by many nations around the world including the US.

The most dissapointing fact out of the incident is that the message of the TV show “Wowowie” seems to have not sink-in with the government and the church – and that solving poverty seems to be not on top of their list. It is obvious that the country’s resource is not enough to support its population. And one would think that an effective government and church would educate the public about family planning, as well as maintaining what Filipinos are known for – our good morals, discipline and warmth towards others.

I am not a fan of the show “Wowowie”. But this recent event made me realize that ABS-CBN’s intent in producing this type of show is simply to help others and to entertain. Simply to help those whom are victims of poverty.

I hope the incident instills a better lesson in life. And that people would take a moment and pay respect towards each other, their government and church leaders. And that corruption and bad politics will not get any nation anywhere.

To ABS-CBN, thank you for offering hope to those whom are in need. Thank you for establishing your other outstanding non-profit organizations, including Bantay-Bata and Bantay Kalikasan. Please continue your good work. Please continue to serve as an avenue to promote peace, promote a well-balanced news programming. Please continue to share your resources and expertise to assist in alleviating the poverty in the Philippines.




February 10th, 2006 at 9:18 am

newbie po and i sympathize sa mga naulila ng naturang trahedya sa ULTRA last Saturday. Mr. Gabby Lopez is man enough to face the music assuming full responsiblity for what happened and even subject himself before the courts of justice. Yes I agree with mr.javierr the TV network’s intention is not only to entertain but to help the poor nung una akala ko ang WOWOWEE ay isang another ordinary game show but it is not it is beyond that saan ka ba nakakita ng show mga bisita mo magtataho, magbabalot, driver ect. masa in other words. REAL people with REAL needs with



February 10th, 2006 at 9:22 am

CONT… with REAL dreams alam nyo po yung dapat sanang makitang pag-asa ng mga kababayan nating mahihirap sa ating govt. ay sa mga game shows pa nakita kung meron sanang concrete proofs ang pamahalaan sa poverty alleviation d na sana sila mag aatubling isapalaran sa game shows ang kanilang ikabubuhay…


lokalokang matino

February 10th, 2006 at 11:04 am

According to a joke item I’ve read, dapat daw at the time the crowd surged to unmanagable stance.. DAPAT SINABI sa crowd — Parating na si Speaker De Venecia at magsasalita sa harap nila. At dali-dali daw maguuwian ang mga ito.

He-he-he-he !!! Posible!!!!



February 10th, 2006 at 5:09 pm

Now I know why lowly civil servants and policemen are disgruntled. When there’s a problem they are easy targets for media bashing.

Let us put all things in perspective. ABS CBN’s spin doctors have effectively muddled the issue and their cohorts in media and grandstanding politicians (hello Mr. Jaworski etal) have scrambled to echo their sentiment. First and foremost is to determine who is PRIMARILY responsible for the success or failure of ANY event . The truly good organizer will pat themselves on the back for a successful outcome. If , unfortunately, there were hitches in the program, they will not suddenly start blaming the “unruly” guests, security detail, the venue owners, caterers, God, etc etc etc for the blunder. Why is this so? Because being professionals, they know that they were the ones who planned the whole thing: they chose whom to invite and how many, they chose the venue, they chose how much security they would provide the guests, and other important details.

Having said this I find it perplexing why this network is trying to blame everyone and everything else (from poverty, the “unruly crowd”, LGU, PNP etc etc) while at the same time trying to downplay their role in the fiasco. Who stands to profit THE MOST from this extravaganza anyway?

Now the executives are whining that the police and aid from the LGU were inadequate. Er, excuse me but as the point man for the whole thing, wasn’t it the organizer’s responsibility to MAKE SURE THAT EVERTYHING IS IN PLACE AND THAT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO SHOULD BE THERE , ARE THERE? It’s not enough to just say “eh we wrote them a letter but they didn’t come eh so it’s their fault.” Duh. Command responsibility is probably not in their vocabulary.

Mr. Lopez is being patted on the back for “bravely assuming responsibility for the tragedy” with people not noticing the craftily inserted caveat “if the courts so decide.” Now how sneaky is that? That is why his minions are doing their darndest to pin the blame on the secondary cast- ordinary citizens/LGU/ policemen .

They overreact to the statements of Mr. Corpus when in fact it was very tame considering 74 people are dead. How many times have people heard their radio broadcasters label people as “stupid” “tanga” “bobo” “nangbababoy ng tao” . How many lives and reputations were ruined as a result and the network never raised a howl of protest or showed a tinge of “righteous” indignation. They are trying to portray themselves as victims when in fact they are the perpetrators.

To ABS CBN: Itigil na ang mga press release! You’re probably doing it to limit liability in a legal case (why are you so worried when your topnotch lawyers can easily squash any class action suit ) but it actually does more damage to the reputation of your company than you might think. Tina Monzon Palma is right. Just do your job of helping the victims and stop the finger pointing.



February 12th, 2006 at 1:23 pm

i totally agree with you cat. the organizer that is abs-cbn has the primary responsibility for what happened period. i can’t understand either why the big howl from their side regarding corpus’ statement. it’s just fitting. i don’t see it as maligning the people in ultra. they are trying to play up the statement of corpus literally and stir up the emotions of the victims to divert the issue and put the most blame on other parties. they’re almost successful on doing that. now they have this 1 week of entertainment (alay daw sa kapamilya) that is they say to entertain the people. as usual, they are trying to play up with the people’s emotion hoping things will be forgotten soon and then back to business as usual.
let’s see if they can avoid the class suits being prepared now for the victims.


baratillo books cinema @ cubao

March 2nd, 2006 at 5:38 am

[…] Panic-induced stampede aggravated by narrow exits, lack of exit and crowd control plans Â? scientists. […]

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