At least eight people were killed and several others injured when panic broke out during the opening night of the AstroWorld music festival in Texas on Friday.
The incident happened during a two-day festival by American rapper Travis Scott at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. According to fire chief Samuel Peña, panic broke out around 9 p.m. when the crowd of some 50,000 people suddenly moved en masse towards the stage, causing several people to be trampled underfoot. “The crowd started to squeeze, and people started to panic,” ABC13 said.
Testimony on social media shows that the crowd in front of the stage at the start of Travis Scott's performance was far too large. “All I could see was the back of the person in front of me. People were everywhere, it was impossible to move," someone wrote. People would have screamed for help, but the majority of the masses continued to party. Images on social media show that there was enormous chaos in the stadium Emergency services drove ambulances through the crowd but barely made any progress as some concertgoers climbed onto the roof of an ambulance to dance on it.
Travis Scott is said to have interrupted his performance several times when he realized that fans were in need. The rapper is said to have ordered security to remove fans in need from the audience and ensure that they were brought to safety.
However, there is outrage on social media that the organization has not shut down the festival sooner. Footage circulates of concertgoers climbing a platform in front of cameramen and appearing to beg for the performance to be stopped. Others report that security guards did not believe statements by panicked concertgoers who went to report people in need.
Other attendees testify how unconscious bodies were crowdsurfed over the audience. The on-site first aid station was overrun by people in difficulty, several of whom were unconscious. “After I woke up at the emergency room, a rescuer begged for my help,” Madeline Eskens wrote on Facebook. The nurse says that several spectators have given chest compressions.
According to Houston City Police Chief Troy Finner, the festival was shut down after it became clear that several people had been injured. Authorities have opened an investigation to determine exactly what went wrong. “It is important not to speculate. We don't have any answers yet," Finner said. According to the police chief, there are rumors that people were injected with drugs. "We'll find out," he said.
“Everything happened at once. It seemed like it all happened in just minutes,” said Deputy Police Chief Larry Satterwhite. “Suddenly several people were lying on the floor, going through some kind of heart attack or some other kind of medical episode.”
NEW: Chief Of Police Leading Investigation Of The Mass Casualty Event At Travis Scott’s #AstroWorld Music Festival Says There Are Rumors That “People Were Injecting People With Drugs” pic.twitter.com/NulKWoLN7v— HeadlineHunter!🚨U.S. (@HHunter_US) November 6, 2021
In total, at least 23 people had to be taken to hospital, 11 of them in cardiac arrest, the fire chief said. About 300 others were treated on site in a field hospital, it is said. Many of the injured are believed to be young teenagers and even children. Local media reports a 10-year-old child was taken to hospital.
The emergency services have set up an emergency shelter in a nearby hotel where people are reunited with friends or family. “This is an extremely tragic evening. Our hearts are broken,” said county judge Lina Hidalgo. “The focus must now be on the families affected and the lives we have lost. A lot of them were extremely young, tragically young.”
Earlier in the evening, police had to intervene when Travis Scott fans stormed the entrance and fences of the NRG stadium, trying to get in without a ticket. Chaos ensued for a while and the police made several arrests in that incident.
The poster for the two-day festival, which has since been officially cancelled, featured Tame Impala, Earth Wind & Fire, SZA and Young Thug in addition to rapper Travis Scott. Rapper Drake appeared on stage as a surprise act. The festival was completely sold out. When ticket sales started in May last year, 50,000 tickets flew out the door within the hour. Tickets were sold at the time for about 180 dollars (155 euros).
Source: HLN 06/11 via License2publish