Authorities say at least eight people were killed Friday night in Houston when a massive crowd that had gathered at the third annual Astroworld music festival surged toward the stage and caused panic while crushing people, said multiple reports.
“The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and people began to panic,” said Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena, The Associated Press noted. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
“This was a tragic night,” he noted further, according to FOX26 in Houston.
Crowds had gathered to hear rapper Travis Scott, a Houston native with a string of platinum albums. Show organizers Scott and LiveNation stopped the show when they realized what was happening, said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.
ASTROWORLD FESTIVAL: The gates don't open until 1 p.m. to get into @trvisXX @astroworldfest, and he won't take the stage for hours, but that hasn't stopped this massive crowd from lining up early to get their merchandise. https://t.co/mwVrOdwTjl pic.twitter.com/ERSUpz8jPg
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) November 5, 2021
“We got to grieve for these families right now,” Finner added. “Everybody in our city, pray for these families and we got to get through it.”
“Our hearts are broken,” said Lina Hidalgo, a Harris County judge, according to KHOU-TV of Houston.
“People go to these events looking for a 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,” Hildago continued. “Obviously, this is the last place we want to be – especially after we’ve been through so much as a community. But we have incredibly capable law enforcement officials here.”
Event officials said that Day 2 events on Saturday have been canceled, according to reports. The concern was being held at NRG Park; fans gathered to see Scott and other performers. Officials estimated the crowd to be around 50,000.
Much of the mayhem occurred after 9:30 p.m., but Peña noted that more than 300 people had been treated at a field hospital set up for the event including some who were hurt during the crowd crush. Though the names and ages of the victims have yet to be released, Hildalgo noted that one of them was 10 years old, who was reportedly critically injured.
Paramedics from Harris County and from the Houston Fire Department transported a total of 23 people hospitals, 17 of whom were taken out during the worst moments, Pena said. The fire chief went on to say that CPR had been performed on 11 of the victims; HFD had 55 ambulances stationed for the massive event, he added.
HPD Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite was on duty for the event, as were 367 police officers and 241 security officers.
“Once we started having the mass casualty incident, they were starting CPR on several people, and it happened all at once,” Satterwhite told reporters.
“It seemed like it 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 added.
A reunification center was established nearby at the Wyndham Houston hotel for family members concerned about loved ones, officials added.
A similar, but not as tragic, incident occurred in 2019 at the same venue where Scott performed, reports noted. Earlier in the day, according to reports, fans blasted through security personnel and barricades to get into the venue.
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