Crowd surging at Travis Scott‘s Astroworld music festival led to eight deaths and “scores” of injuries, according to authorities.
Officials declared the Houston concert a “mass casualty incident” after getting a call Friday evening to the festival that took place at NRG Park. An estimated 50,000 people were in attendance at what the festival’s website considered a sold-out show.
The surge began around the time that Scott, a festival headliner and founder, took the stage.
“The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said at an overnight press briefing. “People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Here’s everything we know about the music festival that turned fatal.
How many Astroworld deaths, injuries?
According to Houston authorities, eight attendees died after what they describe as a crowd surge at the Astroworld festival Friday night shortly after 9 p.m. As first responders rushed to the scene, 17 people were transported to local hospitals, including 11 who were in cardiac arrest, the fire chief said. There were “scores of individuals” who were injured Peña said.
Officials have not confirmed the cause of death for the eight victims and it has not been made clear if they were among those transported to hospitals.
Many others were treated at the scene, where a field hospital had been set up. About 300 people were examined at that site throughout the day, said Peña.
Astroworld promoters had medical personnel and an emergency transport component at the festival that “were quickly overwhelmed” as the injury count mounted at what the fire chief described as a “really a chaotic event.”
What are Astroworld witnesses saying?
Astroworld festivalgoers said they witnessed dozens trampled by the massive crowd, teenagers giving each other CPR and fans screaming out for help that was slow to come Friday night.
“People were trying to get closer to Travis and ignored the pile of people they were stepping on. Some were crying, others were bleeding from their faces and I was the only one helping while the crowd just danced away,” professional DJ Billy Nasser told USA TODAY.
Nasser has worked and attended festivals such as Rolling Loud and said nothing compared to the “madness” he experienced at Astroworld. He noted there was a barricade around the crowd for Scott’s set that made it “nearly impossible” to get out.
Rene Perez and Charles Alford also attended the festival and were shocked by the number of people passing out or being crushed by the crowd. As people in need were screaming, Perez said paramedics struggled to get through the crowd.
“It was insane and dangerous, it was dark and you saw people reaching their hands out from the ground, and me and my friend tried to help them,” Perez told USA TODAY. “It just felt like staffing was low, and it felt like we were the only ones helping.”
What is a crowd surge?
A crowd surge can occur at festivals, concerts and large events when attendees collectively push forward which can lead to large groups of people falling, shoving or being pressured to move past barricades.
Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite was near the front of the crowd and said it seemed the surge at Friday’s concert “happened all at once.”
“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “And so we immediately started doing CPR, and moving people right then, and that’s when I went and met with the promoters, and Live Nation, and they agreed to end early in the interest of public safety.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner called for calm and urged people not to “speculate” about what caused the surge.
“I think it’s very important that none of us speculate. Nobody has all the answers tonight,” Finner said. “We’re going to do an investigation and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anybody else involved, until we determine what happened, what caused the surge,” he said.
What is Travis Scott’s Astroworld?
Astroworld is a music festival started by Houston-native rapper and musician Scott in 2018.
Scott along with a lineup of other musicians perform. Artists who have attended in the past include Pharrell, Gucci Mane, Sheck Wes, Megan Thee Stallion and Marilyn Manson.
Friday’s festival was the third year for the event, which has taken place at the former site of Six Flags AstroWorld now called NRG Park. There wasn’t an Astroworld festival in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Who performed at Astroworld 2021?
The third Astroworld concert festival was announced May 5 on social media with a video of previous energetic and raging Astroworld crowds pushing and running to the concert stage.
“RETURN OF THE RAGE !!!,” the festival’s Instagram account captioned the ticket sales announcement. Tickets for the event were sold out in less than an hour without a lineup being announced, according to a press release at the time.
During the fatal concert Friday Metro Boomin, Master P, Yves Tumor, Toro y Moi, Don Tolliver and more were listed to perform. SZA performed but left the concert early after not feeling well.
“Houston I no feel so good but thank you for having meeee sorry I didn’t kick it w the crowd tnt,” she tweeted.
Drake made a surprise appearance and joined Scott on stage at the concert – which was live streamed by Apple Music – and posted photos to Instagram after the performance.
The second day of the concert has been cancelled.
Contributing: The Associated Press and Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Astroworld fest death: What we know about tragedy at Travis Scott show