The music world is reeling after a crowd stampede at Houston’s Astroworld Festival has left at least eight people dead, the youngest being a 14-year old.
The festival, curated and headlined by Travis Scott, was this year celebrating its third installment, with a sold-out, 50,000 capacity crowd descending on the sight of the former Houston Six Flags park.
A “crowd surge” forced organisers to stop the show, with eight people passing away and dozens injured. A mass casualty incident was reported at 9:30 pm local time.
The victims who lost their lives range from ages 14 to 27, the mayor told a press conference yesterday.
“Travis Scott himself did stop the show several times to point out people near the front who were in distress or needed help and he would get security to come and help them,” said Joey Guerra, a music critic for the Houston Chronicle who was at the event, speaking on BBC Radio 5.
“I don’t think he was aware of the extent of what was going on.”
This is you literally encouraging the crowd to disrespect security, while they are trying to make a path for medical to pass through. pic.twitter.com/ZMv6UWSkN1
— sí (@sisihunni) November 6, 2021
Footage of an ambulance in the crowd during Scott’s performance
Another concertgoer told how “In the front, there was a lot of jumping. If you didn’t jump, you would fall and get trampled on, definitely. The crowd is pushing back and forth. If you were even a little tired, you were going to fall.”
There were problems with the crowd early on, with ticketless fans storming barricades the get into the festival. Watch the dramatic footage below.
Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite told the Associated Press of how things unfolded immediately before proceedings were halted.
“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode.
“We immediately started doing CPR, and moving people right then, 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.”
In the aftermath of the incident, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters of the panic that spread through the crowd, making things worse.
“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” he said.
“People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Peña revealed that 17 people were taken to hospital, including 11 in cardiac arrest. People were also treated at a field hospital that had been set up earlier that day.
Investigators are looking into “what caused, one, the issue of the crowd surge, and two, what prevented people from being able to escape that situation,” according to Mr Peña.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Saturday at a press conference that “nothing is off the table, in terms of persons who were there, people who may have fainted … it is way too preliminary now to draw any conclusions.”
Scott took to Twitter in the aftermath to share that he was “absolutely devastated” with the way things had unfolded.
“Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the loss of life,” he said.
“I am committed to working together with the Hoston community to heal and support the families in need.
“Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their immediate response and support.”
— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021