At one of the hospitals where the injured were being treated, police brought out photos of unidentified dead victims, causing dozens of waiting relatives to crowd around. Not everyone could see, and young women who looked at the photos broke into tears when they recognized someone.
A saleswoman in her 20s, who declined to give her name, said she had been celebrating with three friends. "I heard people screaming, someone fell, people shouted 'don't rush,'" she said. "There were so many people and I couldn't stand properly." She added that she still could not contact one of her friends.
The official Xinhua News Agency quoted a woman with the surname Yin who was caught with her 12-year-old son in the middle of crowds of people pushing to go up and down steps leading from the square.
"Then people started to fall down, row by row," Yin said. When her son was finally brought to safety, he had shoe prints over his clothes, "his forehead was bruised, he had two deep creased scars on his neck, and his mouth and nose were bleeding," she said.
Xia Shujie, vice president of Shanghai No. 1 People's Hospital, told reporters that some of the victims had been suffocated.
At the hospital, which was guarded by police, a man who would give only his surname, Li, said he had identified his wife's cousin among the dead.
Relatives desperately seeking information earlier tried to push past hospital guards, who used a bench to hold them back. Police later allowed family members into the hospital.
CCTV America, the U.S. version of state broadcaster China Central Television, posted a video of Shanghai streets after the stampede showing piles of discarded shoes amid the debris.
One photo from the scene shared by Xinhua showed at least one person doing chest compressions on a shirtless man while several other people lay on the ground nearby, amid debris. Another photo showed the area ringed by police.
On Thursday morning, dozens of police officers were in the area and tourists continued to wander by the square, a small patch of grass dominated by a statue of Chen Yi, the city's first Communist mayor.