At least 8 dead after 'panic' at Houston Astroworld music festival

UniqueThis 11 Nov 5

At least eight people are dead after a crowd surge during the sold-out Astroworld music festival in Houston on Friday, the city's fire chief said.

A further 23 people were transported to the hospital after the crush, and 11 who were taken by ambulance were in cardiac arrest, officials said. They added that more than 300 people were treated throughout the event Friday at an on-site field hospital.

Around 50,000 people were at the event at NRG Park, which was being put on by rapper and producer Travis Scott and kicked off Friday. The festival, which is in its third year, was expected to be a two-day event, but officials said that Saturday's lineup had been canceled.

Fire Chief Samuel Peña told a news conference early Saturday that "the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage," at around 9:15 p.m. local time (10:15 p.m. ET) .

"That caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries, people began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic," he said, adding that a cause of death was not yet known for the eight victims but would be determined.

Footage shared on social media appeared to show Scott stopping the show at least once to request assistance for a fan.

NBC News was not able to verify this, but The Houston Chronicle also reported that the rapper paused a number of times throughout his 75-minute performance after spotting fans in distress near the stage.

Houston Police Department's Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the concert, told a news conference that the situation had developed quickly.

"It seems like it happened with just over the course of 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."

At a later news conference Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said that there were "a lot of rumors going around" about the incident, including "rumors of people injecting some people with drugs."

Urging people not to speculate, he said police were determined to "make sure we find out what happened," adding that Scott and the festival organizers and were cooperating with police.

Earlier in the day, multiple people were injured as festivalgoers rushed a front entrance, NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston reported.

Finner said the the deaths and injuries were not connected with that event and had happened much later.

A reunification center was established for anyone who has friends or relatives who were at the concert and who have not heard from them.

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Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said some as young as 10 years old had been transported to hospital.

"Our hearts are broken," she said. "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."

Scott, 29, is from Houston. He launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018 in his hometown as an annual event. The festival did not happen in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His 2018 hit "Sicko Mode" reached No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 that year. He has been nominated for eight Grammy awards, including for that song and the album "Astroworld."