At least eight people died and hundreds were injured at Travis Scott‘s Astroworld Festival on Friday night (11/5), KTRK, CNN, and the Associated Press report. The Houston, TX festival had returned to NRG Park for the first day of its 2021 edition on Friday, with a sold out crowd of 50,000 people. In a news conference on Saturday morning, Houston fire chief Sam Peña said that in an incident around 9:30 PM, “The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed — they were unable to escape that situation.”
“People began to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic,” Peña continued.
Peña said that over 300 people had been treated at a field hospital set up at the festival since the beginning of the day, and 23 people were taken to hospitals by Houston Fire Department and Harris County medics, including 17 caught up in the surge. 11 of those people were in critical condition, including a 10-year-old boy, and eight have died. Names, ages, and causes of death have not been reported at this time.
HPD Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was on duty at the festival, gave an account during a Saturday morning press conference, saying, “Once we started having the mass casualty incident, they were starting CPR on several people, and it happened all at once. 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.”
Houston Chronicle reports that Travis Scott, who brought out Drake as a surprise guest, stopped his set “multiple times as he spotted fans in distress and asked security to help them out of the crowd,” and that “Emergency vehicles, lights and sirens flashing, cut through the crowd several times.” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said that “At some point, the show was stopped when the crowd was surging,” and noted that Scott and promoters Live Nation were cooperating with investigators.
Astroworld has cancelled its second day, Saturday, and released a statement, which 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.”
Peña said that an investigation will look into the cause of the crowd surge, what prevented people from being able to escape it, the festival layout, and whether it had enough exit point.
Meanwhile, earlier on Friday, hundreds of people stampeded through one of the festival’s VIP entrances, knocking over people and metal detectors. Peña said at least once person was injured during that rush, which ABC13 Reporter Mycah Hatfield caught on video.