At least eight dead, several others injured in crush at US music festival

Published November 6, 2021
Festival goers are seen on day one of the Astroworld music festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US, Nov 5. — AP
Festival goers are seen on day one of the Astroworld music festival at NRG Park in Houston, Texas, US, Nov 5. — AP

At least eight people were killed and many others injured in a crush when fans surged toward the stage during the opening night of the Astroworld music festival on Friday in the US city of Houston, officials said.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena confirmed the casualty figures at an early morning news conference outside NRG Park.

Pena said that at around 9pm the crowd that had gathered for a performance by rapper Travis Scott began to push toward the front of the stage, causing panic and injuries.

People began to fall unconscious, and the mayhem escalated until 9:38pm when a “mass casualty incident” was triggered, he said.

The fire department transported 17 people to hospitals, and 11 of those transported were in cardiac arrest.

It was not yet clear what caused the disaster.

“I think it's very important that none of us speculate. Nobody has all the answers tonight,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said. “If you don't have facts, if you don't have evidence, I'm not going to speak against that. We have hurting families out here.”

Finner added that the organisers and Scott were both cooperating with the police.

Live Nation, the event organiser, and Astroworld did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“It happened all at once. It seemed like it just happened ... over the course of just a few minutes,” said Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite.

“Suddenly we had several people down on the ground, experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode,” he added.

The Houston Chronicle said Scott stopped multiple times during his 75-minute performance when he spotted fans in distress near the front of the stage.

He asked security to make sure they were okay and help them out of the crowd. Emergency vehicles, lights and alarms flashing, cut through the crowds several times.

The fire department said on Twitter that a reunification centre had been set up for families who had not heard from loved ones at the festival.

A crowd of 50,000 showed up for the two-day event, Pena said. The second day of the festival has been cancelled.

“[It's] obviously a very extremely tragic night. Our hearts are broken," Harris county judge Lina Hidalgo said.

“Tonight's focus though needs to be on the families and on the lives that we've lost. Many of them extremely young, tragically young," she added.

Opinion

Editorial

Mianwali raid
Updated 02 Feb, 2023

Mianwali raid

The military needs to share intelligence with civilian agencies to neutralise the militant menace nationwide.
Corruption unlimited
02 Feb, 2023

Corruption unlimited

PAKISTAN’S consistent slide on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index over the last several...
Women police officers
02 Feb, 2023

Women police officers

IN a heartening development, a second female police officer has been appointed as DPO in Attock, weeks after the...
Road to perdition
Updated 01 Feb, 2023

Road to perdition

This is also the time of reckoning for those who sowed the seeds of a disastrous policy against militants.
Transport tragedies
01 Feb, 2023

Transport tragedies

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact,...
Disqualifying Jam Awais
01 Feb, 2023

Disqualifying Jam Awais

IT appears that there may be some kind of small punishment after all for PPP lawmaker Jam Awais, who was pardoned ...