Red Cross officials said 74 people who had come to watch the first anniversary presentation of the popular ABS-CBN noontime show "Wowowee" were crushed to death in an early morning stampede at the Philsports Arena (formerly Ultra) in Pasig City, a shocking spectacle many saw as a telling measure of the hard times.
It was one of the deadliest, if not the deadliest, incident involving a stampede to occur in the country in years.
The victims were predominantly from the poorest parts of the metropolis and nearby provinces, generally jobless and lured by the show's promise of instant millions.
Some came from as far as the Visayas.
The victims included the elderly, pregnant women, toddlers, entire families or neighborhoods who since Monday had taken shelter in jeepneys or slept on mattresses and newspapers in the open street leading to the gates of the Arena.
Many of the dead were women crushed against a closed steel gate at the bottom of a slope or trampled underfoot. At least one child was killed, hospital officials said.
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It is a sad, sad day not just for TV history, but a depressing reflection of the state of our country. Filipinos are pinning their hopes and dreams on a television game show for lack of anything else to cling to.
God bless their souls.
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