Astroworld Festival: Eight dead and 300 injured after crowd crush during Travis Scott show in Texas

Seventeen people, some as young as 10, taken to hospital after being caught up in crush

Celine Wadhera
Saturday 06 November 2021 16:01
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‘This is a tragic night’: Officers give update on fatal crowd surge at Travis Scott gig
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At least eight people are dead and many others have been injured after a crowd surge on the opening night of the Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas.

Some 50,000 people were in attendance at the concert when part of the crowd began to rush towards the stage during Travis Scott’s set shortly after 9pm local time on Friday evening, police said.

Livestreamed footage of the event showed the rapper pausing his performance as an ambulance arrived at the venue, NRG Park.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Scott stopped multiple times during his 75-minute performance, having spotted fans in distress and requested that security check on their wellbeing and escort them safely out of the crowd.

Houston fire chief Samuel Peña described the event as a “mass casualty” incident. He told reporters: “This is a tragic night. We had at least eight confirmed fatalities tonight and we had scores of individuals that were injured here in this event.

“The crowd began to compress toward 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 reported that 17 people were taken to hospital, including 11 who were in cardiac arrest, while some 300 people were treated for more minor injuries, including cuts and bruises, at a temporary field hospital in NRG Park. It was not immediately clear whether all eight who died were among those who were taken to hospital, and their cause(s) of death have not yet been identified. Authorities said that a medical examiner would investigate the details in the coming days.

Houston Police executive assistant chief Larry Satterwhite was close to the front of the stage when the surge began. He told reporters: “It happened all at once. It seemed like it just happened ... over the course of just a few minutes.”

“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” he said.

“We immediately started doing CPR ... and that’s when I went and met with the promoters, and Live Nation, and they agreed to end early in the interest of public safety”.

Shortly thereafter festival organisers and Live Nation called off the event and cancelled the second and final day of the sold outconcert, which featured artists including SZA, Bad Bunny and 21 Savage.

Just before 6am on Saturday morning, festival organisers shared their condolences across their social media accounts.

“Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight – especially those we lost and their loved ones,” a statement said.

“We are focused on supporting local officials however we can. With that in mind the festival will no longer be held on Saturday.”

The statement went on to thank the police and fire departments for their response to the mass casualty incident that took place, and encouraged anyone with any information about the incident to bring it to the authorities.

Live Nation was not immediately available for comment.

The deadly crowd surge was the second incident to occur at this year’s Astroworld Festival. Earlier in the day, fans broke through a fence and stormed past security guards. ABC13 reported that at 2pm a “stampede” of “hundreds of people destroyed the VIP security entrance”. In the chaos that ensued, a number of people were trampled, while some were detained by security guards.

Hundreds rush through gates of Travis Scott show hours before fatal crowd surge

Houston Police Department chief Troy Finner said an investigation was underway to find out what had happened at the festival but emphasised the immediate focus was on those the injured and the dead.

“Nobody could dream of this,” he said. “I think it’s very important that none of us speculate. Nobody has all the answers tonight.

“If you don’t have facts, if you don’t have evidence, I’m not going to speak against that. We have hurting families out here.”

He added: “Pray for these families.”

Harris county judge and local politician Lina Hidalgo described the event as an “extremely tragic night”.

“Our hearts are broken. People go to these events looking fora good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories - it’s not the kind of event you go to where you expect to find out about fatalities,” she said.

While identification of those who were injured and killed in the event is ongoing, Ms Hidalgo told reporters that some of the victims who were transported to hospital by ambulance were “as young as 10 years old”.

She urged anyone who was missing a family member who had attended the festival to come to the Wyndam Houston Hotel, at 8686 Kirby, where Houston Police have established an information and reunification centre.

Texas governor Greg Abbott also offered his condolences to those who lost loved ones in the incident. In a statement he said: “What happened at Astroworld Festival last night was tragic, and our hearts are with those who lost their lives and those who were injured in the terrifying crowd surge.

“Thank you to the first responders and good samaritans who were on site and immediately tended to those who were injured in the crowd.

“The State of Texas is ready to assist in the response, and I have directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to make state resources available to support the investigation. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in lifting up in prayer those affected by this tragedy.”

The deaths are the worst toll from an incident at a US concert since the 2017 massacre at the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival, a country music event where 58 people were shot dead. A similarly tragic mass casualty incident occurred when fire broke out at Rhode Island nightclub The Station killing 100 people in 2003.

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