Horrifying new footage has revealed the carnage on the ground as frantic shoppers crushed each other in a midnight balloon drop at a Sydney shopping centre.
Young children were among those hurt in the human stampede as frenzied shoppers jostled at balloons for free shopping vouchers during the PR stunt at Westfield Parramatta.
Footage from within the crowd has now revealed the moment excitement turned to chaos, with shoppers screaming in pain as they were shoved off their feet.
The video, published by 9news, reveals just how quickly the atmosphere changed.
When the balloons started to hit the top of the crowd, the sound of their popping was soon accompanied by children’s screams.
One person’s voice turned to panic as they discovered a friend had fallen to the ground before they desperately tried to get them away from the crush.
One witness to the event told 9news people were ‘passing kids out of the place’ as carnage set in.
Footage from within the crowd has revealed the moment excitement turned to panic during a midnight balloon drop at Westfield Parramatta
Christmas chaos: Up to 150 people had gathered at Westfield in Parramatta on Monday for a midnight balloon drop offering vouchers encouraging customers to shop all night
She criticised the way the event was organised, saying she ‘didn’t think it was very well planned, it was such a small space’.
One of the shoppers was Lauren Borg, who won a free coffee, a day of valet parking free and $5 off at Chemist Warehouse on a purchase over $50.
She said the scene was horrific as people trampled one another to grasp the gold and white inflatables.
Lauren Borg said her prizes were not worth being trampled by crazed shoppers at the midnight balloon drop in Parramatta Westfield on Monday night
‘It was horrible. Everyone was pushing and falling all over each other,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘People started crowding around at least 25 minutes before. Then the crowd got bigger.
‘Just before the drop they released the barrier and people went nuts shoving and pushing. Then everyone fell like dominos. My shopping got damaged.
Twelve people were injured and treated at the scene with five, including four males and one female, being taken to hospital
‘I was on the floor and someone fell onto my ankle and I was screaming and someone was trying to pull me out.’
Five ambulance crews and an inspector responded to the scene shortly after receiving a call-out shortly after midnight.
A dozen people were injured and five, including four males and one female were taken to hospital in Westmead, Concord and Auburn.
A number of children were crushed in the scuffle, Nine’s Today Show reported.
Three patients were treated for traumatic chest injuries, neck and back pain, as well as nausea and dizziness, NSW Ambulance services said.
One video clip captured the moment a large wooden structure toppled over the shopping centre’s Santa Claus
‘Paramedics were responding to reports that a number of people had been injured after a balloon drop full of shopping centre discounts caused a stampede of people to hustle for the prizes,’ Inspector Phil Templeman said.
‘As a result a number of people from the crowd suffered injuries including minor aches and pains to their neck, back and ankles.
‘The two patients taken to Concord and Auburn Hospital were suffering with mild aches and pains.
‘It is incredibly lucky that no one was more seriously injured. As we go into the busy holiday period and many of our shopping centres become crowded with people, we urged the community to be patient and ensure the safety of themselves and those around them.’
Another shopper shared a photo of a man being treated on the floor after he was injured in the incident
Ms Borg said she attended the same event last year without incident.
She said did not recall seeing the barrier their last time, and suggested it could have triggered the mayhem.
‘The barrier I’m almost sure wasn’t there last year. I think it caused people to just run into each other,’ she said.
‘But the thing is even if you were trying to be sensible, you got caught in it anyway.’
Tents (left) were set up at the shopping centre for those requiring care at the scene. One person was seen being taken away in a stretcher (right)
Shopping centre owner Scentre Group said their team acted swiftly to support customers, contact emergency services and make the area safe.
‘Our team are continuing to speak with affected customers directly,’ a spokesperson said in a statement.
‘We will continue to look into the circumstances surrounding last night’s incident.’
Many people took to social media to criticise the organisers for not foreseeing a disastrous outcome.
‘Westfield Parramatta haha absolute carnage with the balloon drop, not sure why the idiot that organised it didn’t see that happening,’ one person said.
One woman added: ‘Whoever thought that balloon release thing at Westfield Parramatta was a good idea was dumb as hell, people trampled, passed out, knocked over and hurt …for what? some dumb prize?’
Christmas promotion turned into a disaster as swarms of people rushed to get their hands on the gold and white balloons and caused a stampede
A number of shoppers were treated for ‘traumatic’ chest injuries, neck and back pain
Many people took to social media to criticise the organisers for not foreseeing a disastrous outcome
‘Welcome to Parramatta! Was it worth a free gifts?’ another quipped.
In the lead up to the event, Westfield had promoted the balloon drop on social media as part of its ’33 hour non-stop shop’ marathon kicking off at 9am on Monday and ending at 6pm on Christmas Eve on Tuesday.
But before the event even took place many expressed concerns over the environmental impact the balloons would have on the shopping centre’s Facebook page.
‘Please stop the proposed balloon drop! It’s a totally unnecessary use of a product that will end up in landfill. The whole country is trying to move away from single use items such a bags and takeaway coffee cups, and even though most balloons are latex they still take years to break down,’ one person commented.
‘Surely there has to be a more environmentally friendly way of celebrating than adding hundreds if not thousands of choking hazards to our wildlife into the environment and landfill!’ another added.
Westfield Parramatta (pictured) had promoted the balloon drop on social media as part of its ’33 hour non-stop shop’, kicking off at 9am on Monday and ending at 6pm on Christmas Eve on Tuesday