Crowd wave kills at least 8 at Houston Music Festival

HOUSTON – Fans attending a Houston music festival rushed to the stage during a performance by rapper Travis Scott, triggering panic in the crowd of tens of thousands. At least eight people were killed and many more injured, authorities said.

The chaos unfolded Friday night at Astroworld, a full two-day event at NRG Park stadium. About 50,000 people were present. We did not know what had set the crowd in motion.

“The crowd started to compress towards the front of the stage which caused some panic and started causing injuries,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said at a press conference . “People started to fall, pass out, and it created further panic.”

Seventeen people were taken to hospital, 11 of them with cardiac arrest, Peña said, and “dozens” were injured.

The organizers of the event had organized the presence of medical teams at the festival. But once the influx of crowds started, those teams were “quickly overwhelmed,” the fire chief said.

In a video posted to social media, Scott could be seen stopping the gig at one point and asking for help for someone in the audience: “Safety, someone is helping real quick.”

Houston Police Deputy Executive Chief Larry Satterwhite, who was near the front of the crowd, said the flare “came suddenly.”

“Suddenly we had several people on the ground going through some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” Satterwhite said. “And so we immediately started doing CPR and moving people around then.”

Satterwhite said he quickly met with the promoters, who agreed to end the event “in the interest of public safety.”

Amy Harris, a freelance photographer for the Associated Press, described an “aggressive” crowd atmosphere throughout the day due to the way the fans behaved – pushing and rushing at barricades on the stage and banning them. VIP and admission areas.

“It was definitely the most chaotic festival environment I’ve been in,” Harris said. “I felt uncomfortable all day.”

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner called for calm and urged people not to jump to conclusions about the causes of the outbreak.

“I think it’s very important that neither of us speculate. Nobody has all the answers tonight, ”Finner said.

“We’re going to investigate and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anyone else involved, until we figure out what happened,” he said.

It was not clear whether the eight people who died were among the 17 people taken to hospital. Many people were also treated on the spot, where a field hospital had been set up. About 300 people were examined at this site throughout the day, the fire chief said.

Authorities did not immediately know the causes of death and the dead were not immediately identified. A medical examiner had planned to investigate.

Scott, one of music’s biggest young stars, released two new songs earlier on Friday, “Mafia” and “Escape Plan”. The Houston native, 29, has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. He has a 3-year-old daughter with Kylie Jenner, who announced in September that she was pregnant with their second child.

Drake joined Scott on stage at the concert – which was broadcast live by Apple Music – and posted photos to Instagram after the performance.

A representative for Scott did not immediately respond to a request from the PA.

Authorities set up a reunification center in a hotel for family members who were unable to reach relatives during the event. Authorities have sought to connect families with festival-goers who were taken to hospital, “some as young as 10 years old,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the country’s top elected official. county.

Scott founded the Astroworld Festival in 2018, and it has been held every year since at the former Six Flags AstroWorld site, except in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The deaths were reminiscent of a 1979 concert by The Who where 11 people died and about two dozen were injured as thousands of fans attempted to enter Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum.

Other musical events that have claimed lives in recent years include the Las Vegas massacre in 2017, when a gunman perched in a hotel window killed 58 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the so-called Ghost ship fire in 2016 that killed 36 people. in a California warehouse during a dance party and a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 in Rhode Island.

By JUAN A. LOZANO

(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.)


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Gerald R. Schneider

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