Eight people died and scores were injured, including a 10-year-old child, at an outdoor concert at rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston after the crowd reportedly rushed the stage, authorities said Saturday.
Scott was performing when, shortly after 9 p.m. local time, the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, causing panic.
Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña said there were about 50,000 guests in attendance during Scott’s performance.
The cause of the eight deaths has not yet been determined, and the investigation is ongoing.
“This is a tragic night,” Peña said at a briefing in the early hours of Saturday morning.
CPR had to be performed on several people. At about 9:38 p.m., 17 patients at the event were transferred to hospitals and 11 of those transferred experienced cardiac arrest, Peña said.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner was adamant that the cause of the “mass casualty event” is still unknown and said rumors of drug use at the concert were being looked into. Live Nation, the organizer of the concert, is providing authorities with video footage of the incident, Finner said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the event was a “tragedy” and called for a detailed briefing from law enforcement, Live Nation and NRG Park, the venue of the festival, to explain “how the event got out of control leading to the deaths and injuries of several attendees.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that “our hearts are with those who lost their lives & those who were injured” and that he’s making state resources available for the investigation.
The Astroworld Festival, which was scheduled for Friday and Saturday, said Saturday events were canceled. The festival posted to Instagram on Saturday morning saying, “We are focused on supporting local officials however we can.”
Xavier Watkins, who said he’s been to all three Astroworld Festivals, was at the event Friday night. But last night’s concert was different from any others he’s experienced.
“I’m 6’3 and I felt bad for the smaller people there cause they were just being swallowed down at first into the crowd,” Watkins said in a text message to NPR. “I was doing my best to help pull people up cause it was also muddy and it was very easy to slip.”
Watkins said there wasn’t enough security at this year’s event, and from the security guards he spoke with, many said it was their first time staffing a concert like this.
Scott, whose real name is Jacques Webster, is a Grammy-nominated rapper and Houston native, and launched his Astroworld Festival in 2018. He was arrested in 2015 after telling his fans to jump the barricades during his Lollapalooza performance and in 2017 for encouraging people to rush the stage at a performance in Arkansas.
The details of what caused the crowd surge at the concert in Houston are still unclear.
“My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival,” Scott wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”