At least eight people were killed and many others injured as crowd surged at the Astroworld music festival in Houston while rapper Travis Scott was performing.
Officials declared a “mass casualty incident” during the festival where an estimated 50,000 people were in attendance, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said.
He said,“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries.” “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Officials transported 17 people to hospitals, including 11 who were in cardiac arrest. Many people were also treated at the scene at NRG Park, where a field hospital had been set up.
Astroworld is a two-day music festival that was scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday in Houston.
Drake joined Travis Scott on-stage at the concert, which was live-streamed by Apple Music and posted photos to Instagram after the performance.
Event promoters had arranged for medical units to be on scene at the festival, however once the crowd surge began, those units were “quickly overwhelmed,” Peña said.
In a video, Scott could be seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for aid for someone in the audience:
Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite was near the front of the crowd and said it seemed the surge “happened all at once.”
“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode. And so we immediately started doing CPR, and moving people right then, and that’s when I went and met with the promoters, and they agreed to end early in the interest of public safety.”
It wasn’t clear whether all eight who died were among the 17 that had been transported to hospitals. The deceased had not been identified as of early Saturday.
Officials set up a reunification centre at a hotel for family members who had not been able to reach relatives who had been in attendance at the event. Authorities were looking to connect families with festival goers who were transported to the 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 as to what caused the surge.
“We’re going to do an investigation and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anybody else involved, until we determine what happened, what caused the surge,” he said. “We don’t know, but we will find out.”
Finner said that Scott and the event promoters cooperated with police.
The deadly surge was the most deaths at a U.S. concert since the 2003 Station nightclub fire that killed 100 people in Rhode Island.
Eleven people died and about two dozen were injured in 1979 at a concert for The Who as thousands of fans tried to get into Cincinnati’s riverfront coliseum.