At least eight people died and hundreds more were injured during the opening night of Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival at NRG Park in Houston, officials said.
The incident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. CT, when droves of the concert’s approximately 50,000 attendees rushed the stage, according to Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena.
“We had at least eight confirmed fatalities tonight. Eight confirmed fatalities and we had scores of individuals that were injured here at this event,” Pena said in a press conference early Saturday morning. “We had an attendance of approximately 50,000 to the Travis Scott Astroworld Festival event.”
“What we do know is that at approximately 9 o’clock, 9:15, the crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries,” he added. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Over 300 people were treated for injuries suffered during Friday’s concerts. Fans reportedly broke through safety and traffic flow barriers. The pandemonium of the concert’s sold-out crowd overwhelmed security, which created even more chaos.
Out of the twenty-three people rushed to the hospital, eight of them died. 11 had to have CPR performed on them, according to ABC13. One victim is only 10 years old and is in critical condition from the last report.
Travis Scott was accompanied by Drake in a surprise appearance during his headlining performance. The Canadian-born rapper’s appearance obviously excited the crowd, but it is still unclear what caused the deadly surge.
Video footage of the event showed police officers and members of the city’s fire department rushing to the front of the stage before the concert ended. It also showed Travis Scott, LiveNation and the event’s organizers stopping the concert after several people in attendance were injured, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said.
As soon as the situation got out of hand, Houston police and the event’s security put a halt to the concert, but by then the “damage had been done,” Pena told CNN.
In what was a highly anticipated event due to the festival being skipped last year because of COVID-19 pandemic, Friday night’s deaths and injuries made the incident even more tragic.
This incident was not the first of its kind; in 2019, three people were trampled at the festival while trying to enter the event grounds.
Travis Scott took to Twitter to release a statement in response to the tragedy that occurred during his set:
“I’m absolutely devastated by what took place last night,” he wrote. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.”
“Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life,” he continued. “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need. Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department and NRG Park for their immediate response and support. Love You All.”
Some of the festival’s attendees took to social media to provide graphic accounts of the deadly surge. Fan accounts detail incidents of crowd crushing, suffocation, and trampling that went virtually unnoticed by staff amid the chaos of the surge:
The festival’s second day and all remaining events surrounding the concert have been canceled, Astroworld’s organizers said.
Organizers also released a statement early Saturday morning, sending support to the victims and their families.
“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,” organizers wrote.
“As authorities mentioned in their press conference earlier, they are looking into the series of cardiac arrests that took place,” they added. “If you have any relevant information on this, please reach out to @HoustonPolice. Thank you to our partners at the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their response and support.”