At least eight people are dead and many more injured after a crowd surge during Travis Scott’s Friday night performance at Houston’s Astroworld music festival.
At around 9:30 p.m. local time during the 30-year-old rapper’s set at NRG Park stadium, which an estimated 50,000 people attended, the audience rushed forward, triggering panic. The Associated Press reported that of the 17 people taken to local hospitals, 11 were in cardiac arrest after on-site medical staff became “overwhelmed” ahead of treating around 300 individuals, according to authorities.
Per city mayor Sylvester Turner at a news conference Saturday evening, the youngest of those who died was 14. Another was 16, two were 21 years old, another two were 23, one was 27, and a final person was of unknown age, as he could not immediately be identified.
The remaining identities will not be revealed until all eight family members of the victims have been notified, though Turner said the investigation into what happened is ongoing, and he suspects it could take “weeks” to get to the bottom of “a lot of unanswered questions.”
Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Houston’s police chief, Troy Finner, further confirmed that his staff is now engaged in a “criminal investigation” that will involve its homicide division as well as the narcotics division. He revealed that 25 people were arrested at the event, including 23 that he labeled as “trespassers” who weren’t authorized to be on the property.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña added that permits were secured for the event and that inspectors maintained the “doors in and out of that venue to be open and unobstructed.”
“The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Peña previously said during an earlier news conference following the incident, which saw responders providing CPR and transporting the injured to safe locations while the concert continued. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Officials stressed that a reason for the surge during Scott’s set remained unclear as of Saturday morning, though attendees have since speculated on what caused it. Freelance photographer Amy Harris was in the crowd as she covered the event for the Associated Press and told the outlet she felt an “aggressive” atmosphere throughout the day, with concertgoers reportedly pushing each other, rushing the stage, and crossing barricades to VIP areas.
“It was definitely the most chaotic festival environment that I’ve been in,” she said. “I felt uneasy all day.”
The New York Times spoke to Neema Djavadzadeh, an attendee who described the entire event as “really hectic” from the start. “I got there around 3 and saw people already struggling to stand straight,” she said. “There was a lot of mob mentality going on, people willing to do whatever to be in line for merch, food, shows, you name it. A lot of fights broke out throughout the day.”
Another concertgoer, Nick Johnson, recalled seeing the audience “trying to rush to the front” from the back of the venue but indicated that he didn’t “think it was anyone’s fault” as anticipation was intense for such a high-profile music event. “You could just feel it more and more and more,” he said, “squishing, everyone screaming, not being able to breathe.”
Scott released a statement Saturday afternoon, indicating that he is “devastated” and praying for those affected by the tragedy.
“Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into this tragic loss of life,” he wrote on social media. “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”
Astroworld organizers shared a statement Saturday morning, indicating that they are “focused on supporting local officials” as they canceled the remainder of the event, which was also set to include performances from Bad Bunny and Earth Wind & Fire, and scheduled to roll out across the day.