Five people have been taken to hospital after a pre-Christmas balloon drop at a Sydney shopping centre caused a dangerous crowd crush.
Police say a number of people were knocked over and injured when the crowd surged as the prize-filled balloons were released during Westfield Parramatta's "mega balloon drop" at midnight.
"They were at that location to grab balloons as they were released and apparently the balloons had small gifts inside," a NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP on Tuesday.
Paramedics treated 12 shoppers at the scene and five people were taken to hospital, according to NSW Ambulance.
Inspector Phil Templeman said they were responding to reports that the balloon drop "caused a stamped of people to hustle for the prizes".
"Three of the transported patients had more serious issues including traumatic chest injuries, neck and back pain as well as nausea and dizziness," Insp Templeman said in a statement on Tuesday.
He said it was "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 urge the community to be patient and ensure the safety of themselves and those around them," he said.
Westfield had been promoting the balloon drop as part of a 33-hour non-stop shop.
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 to AAP.
"We will continue to look into the circumstances surrounding last night's incident."
Australian Associated Press