At least eight people died and scores more were injured when chaos, including a crowd crush, broke out during opening night of rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld music festival in Texas Friday, authorities said.
A mass of concertgoers at Houston’s NRG Park “began to compress” to the front of the stage at around 9:15 p.m., causing mayhem and some people to get hurt, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters early Saturday.
“People started to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic,” Peña said during a press conference.
At around 9:38 p.m. Peña said a “mass casualty incident” was triggered as the number of victims grew and emergency responders became overwhelmed.
At least 23 people were rushed to a hospital, including a 10-year-old, authorities said. Of those hospitalized, 11 were in cardiac arrest. Some 300 people were treated at a field hospital on the scene.
Horrifying videos on social media showed first responders performing CPR on an unconscious person as the concert continued.
Another clip on social media showed someone being rushed out on gurneys.
No cause of death was given for the eight confirmed fatalities, pending the medical examiner’s investigation, Peña said. Police were working to identify the victims and people whose loved ones were missing were asked to go to the local Wyndham Hotel.
“Nobody could dream of this… I think it’s important that no one speculates. We have none of the answers tonight,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.
The chief said authorities have “heard rumors of people injecting people with drugs” at the show.
Entertainment company LiveNation, which organized Astroworld, said it would allow investigators to review footage from the show and Scott is cooperating with law-enforcement, Finner said.
As the mayhem unfolded, “the show was stopped when the crowd was surging,” the chief added.
“#ASTROWORLDFest can’t believe this is happening you’re supposed to feel safe at a music festival and make it back to tell how much fun you had but this is sickening,” one person posted on Twitter.
The Houston Fire Department said that it was responding to “multiple civilian injuries” at the concert just before 11 p.m. local time.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of eager fans were seen knocking down barricades at entrance gates blowing past metal detectors and security guards. None of those injured in that instance appeared to be seriously injured, according to ABC13.
The third installation of Astroworld’s 100,000 tickets sold out within an hour of going on sale in May. The event began in 2018 and was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday’s concert was cancelled.