At least eight people are dead and hundreds of others have been injured after tragedy struck at a Houston music festival Friday night, KTRK-TV reports.
Around 9:15 p.m. Friday, while rapper Travis Scott was performing, a crowd of about 50,000 concertgoers at the Astroworld Festival began pushing toward the stage, prompting alarm from some in attendance.
“The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and people began to panic,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters at a news conference, according to the television station.
“People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic,” Peña added, according to Fox News.
It remains unclear precisely what caused the deaths, but authorities are investigating and have not yet determined whether anything criminal occurred.
“There are a lot of rumors going around,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said, according to KTRK-TV. “We have hurting families out here.
“Until we determine what happened, what caused the surge, we don’t know. We will find out. Is there anything criminal? We don’t know.”
More than 300 people were treated at a field hospital set up at the site. The singer Drake had also made an appearance at the event.
Travis Scott is said to have stopped the show after learning that fans had been injured, according to the television station, citing the police chief.
“At some point, the show was stopped when the crowd was surging,” Finner told news media, according to KTRK-TV.
Medics brought 23 people to area hospitals and had performed CPR on 11 of them who were in cardiac arrest. One of the victims was as young as 10 years old.
Houston Police Department Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite described the chaotic nature of the incident.
“Once we started having the mass casualty incident, they were starting CPR on several people, and it happened all at once,” Satterwhite told the press, according to KTRK-TV. “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.”
The event’s other performances scheduled for the weekend have been canceled.
Authorities established a reunification center at the nearby Wyndham Houston hotel for people to locate missing loved ones who were at the festival.
“If you’re a relative, (and your) family member was at this event and you have not spoken to this individual, we have units available to assist,” Finner said, according to KTRK-TV.
Those outside the Houston area can call 832-393-2991 or 832-393-2990 for assistance in locating a missing loved one.
Festival organizers released a statement about the incident on Saturday. It reads: “Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight – especially those we lost and their loved ones. We are focused on supporting local officials however we can. With that in mind the festival will no longer be held on Saturday. As authorities mentioned in their press conference earlier, they are looking into the series of cardiac arrests that took place. If you have any relevant information on this, please reach out to Houston Police. Thank you to our partners at the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their response and support.”
Earlier in the evening, a large crowd had overtaken the perimeter of the concert grounds, but investigators do not believe it is related to deaths, according to the television station.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who leads Harris County’s governing body, told reporters that the incident has shaken the community.
“Our hearts are broken,” Hidalgo told reporters, according to Fox News. “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. . . . 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.”
Finner, the police chief, called on residents to come together for the victims.
“We got to grieve for these families right now,” Finner said, according to KHOU-TV. “Everybody in our city, pray for these families and we got to get through it.”
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:
[Feature image: Festival goers are seen exiting NRG Park on day one of the Astroworld Music Festival on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)]