Eight dead and several injured at the Travis Scott Astroworld Festival in Houston

HOUSTON (AP) – At least eight people were killed and many others injured in what authorities described as a surge at the Astroworld music festival in Houston while rapper Travis Scott was performing.

Authorities declared a “mass casualty incident” shortly after 9 pm Friday during the festival, which was attended by about 50,000 people, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters at a news conference.

“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and started causing some injuries,” the fire marshal said. “People began to fight, to lose consciousness and that generated additional panic.”

The show was canceled shortly after. The fire chief said “dozens of people” were injured.

Authorities transferred 17 people to hospitals, including 11 who suffered cardiac arrest, Peña said. It was unclear if the eight who died were among the 17 who had been transported to hospitals. Many people were also treated at the scene in NRG Park, where a field hospital had been set up. About 300 people were examined at that site throughout the day, he said.

Astroworld is a two-day music festival that was scheduled for 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 were killed and about two dozen were injured when thousands of fans tried to enter the Cincinnati riverfront coliseum.

Scott, one of music’s biggest young stars, released two new songs on Friday, “Mafia” and “Escape Plan.” The 29-year-old Houston native has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. He has a 3-year-old daughter, Stormi, with Kylie Jenner, who announced in September that she is pregnant with their second child.

Drake joined Scott on stage at the concert, which was broadcast live on Apple Music, and posted photos on Instagram after the performance.

Event promoters had arranged for medical units to be on stage at the festival, however, once the crowd surge began, those units were “quickly overwhelmed,” Peña said.

In a video posted on social media, Scott could be seen stopping the concert at one point and asking for help for someone in the audience: “Security, someone help real quick.”

Houston Police Deputy Chief Executive Officer Larry Satterwhite was at the forefront of the crowd and said the surge appeared to “just happen.”

“Suddenly several people fell to the ground, experiencing some kind of cardiac arrest or some kind of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “So we immediately started doing CPR and moving people at that point, and that’s when I went and met with the promoters and Live Nation, and they agreed to finish early for the sake of public safety.”

Peña said officials did not immediately know the causes of death for the eight people who died. A coroner would investigate. The deceased had not been identified until the early hours of Saturday.

Officials set up a reunification center in a hotel for family members who had not been able to communicate with family members who had been present at the event. Authorities were seeking 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 about the cause of the increase.

“I think it is very important that none of us speculate. No one has all the answers tonight, ”Finner said. He added that there have been several rumors surrounding the event that authorities would investigate.

“We are going to do an investigation and find out because it is not fair to the producers, to anyone else involved, until we determine what happened, what caused the increase,” he said. “We don’t know, but we’ll find out.”

The Associated Press reached out to a representative for Scott, but did not immediately receive a response.

Finner told reporters that Scott and the promoters of the event cooperated with police.

Scott founded Astroworld Festival in 2018 and it has taken place at the former Six Flags AstroWorld site every year since then except for 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 Station. Nightclub fire that killed 100 people in Rhode Island.


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