Eight dead, many injured at Astroworld festival in Houston
At least eight people have died and scores of others have been injured in what officials described as a crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival in Houston while rapper Travis Scott performed.
Authorities declared a “mass incident” just after 9 p.m. Friday during the festival where about 50,000 people were in attendance, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters at a press conference.
“The crowd started to compress towards the front of the stage which caused some panic and started to cause injuries,” said the fire chief. “People started to fall, pass out, and it created further panic.”
The show was canceled shortly after. The fire chief said “dozens of people” were injured.
Authorities transported 17 people to hospitals, 11 of them with cardiac arrest, Peña said. It was not clear whether the eight people who died were among the 17 people who had been taken to hospitals. Many people were also treated on site at NRG Park, where a field hospital had been set up. About 300 people were examined at this site throughout the day, he said.
Astroworld is a two-day music festival scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday in Houston. The event was sold out, according to the Astroworld website. Saturday’s performances have been canceled.
The deaths were reminiscent of a 1979 concert for The Who where 11 people died and about two dozen were injured as thousands of fans attempted to enter the riverside Coliseum in Cincinnati.
Scott, one of music’s biggest young stars, released two new songs earlier on Friday, “Mafia” and “Escape Plan”. The Houston native, 29, has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. He has a 3-year-old daughter, Stormi, with Kylie Jenner, who announced in September that she was pregnant with their second child.
Drake joined Scott on stage at the concert – which was broadcast live by Apple Music – and posted photos to Instagram after the performance.
The promoters of the event had arranged for the presence of medical units at the festival grounds, but once the influx of crowds started, these units were “quickly overwhelmed,” Peña said.
In a video posted to social media, Scott could be seen stopping the gig at one point and asking for help for someone in the audience: “Safety, someone is helping real quick.”
Houston Police Deputy Executive Chief, Larry Satterwhite, was near the front of the crowd and said it looked like the flare “happened at the same time.”
“Suddenly we had several people on the ground going through some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “And so we immediately started doing CPR and moving people around at that point, and that’s when I went to meet the promoters and Live Nation, and they agreed to end. early in the interest of public safety. “
Peña said authorities did not immediately know the causes of death of the eight people who died. A medical examiner would investigate. The deceased had not been identified on Saturday morning.
Authorities set up a reunification center in a hotel for family members who were unable to reach relatives who attended the event. Authorities were seeking to connect families with festival-goers who were taken to hospital, “some as young as 10 years old,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner called for calm and urged people not to jump to conclusions about the cause of the outbreak.
“I think it’s very important that neither of us speculate. Nobody has all the answers tonight, ”Finner said. He added that there had been several rumors surrounding the event that authorities would look into.
“We’re going to investigate and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anyone else involved, until we figure out what happened, what caused the surge,” a- he declared. “We don’t know, but we’ll find out.”
The Associated Press contacted a representative for Scott but did not immediately receive a response.
Finner told reporters that Scott and the event organizers had cooperated with police.
Scott founded Astroworld Festival in 2018 and it has taken place every year at the former Six Flags AstroWorld site, except in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Other musical events where there have been multiple deaths in recent years include the Las Vegas Massacre in 2017 when 58 people were killed at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the so-called Ghost Ship fire in 2016 that killed 36 people in California and the 2003 train station. Nightclub fire that killed 100 in Rhode Island.