Eight killed as crowd rushes stage at Texas rap concert

Published November 7, 2021
The crowd watches as Travis Scott performs at Astroworld Festival at NRG park on Friday.—AP
The crowd watches as Travis Scott performs at Astroworld Festival at NRG park on Friday.—AP

HOUSTON: Authorities in Texas were investigating on Saturday a tragedy in which the crowd at a huge Travis Scott rap concert surged towards the stage in a crush that killed eight people and wounded at least 17 more.

Around 50,000 people were in the audience at Houston’s NRG Park Friday night when the crowd started pushing toward the stage as Scott was performing, triggering chaotic scenes.

“People were being pushed, people were being trampled, and then as I fought my way out of there, I saw people on the ground,” Logan Morris, a Dallas native who was at the show, said.

Raul Marquez, 24, said he saw a lot of drinking and drug use in the crowd.

“And they got hot and just dancing and it all caved in and just, they couldn’t breathe, and passed out left and right,” he said.

“Some people didn’t care and just stomped on them or ignored them. It was intense,” Marquez said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the crush left at least eight people dead and 17 to 23 injured.

Turner told CNN that authorities are looking at video footage, talking to witnesses, concert organizers and people who were hospitalised. “So we’re looking at everything,” Turner said.

Houston is known for staging high profile events, he said, but “we’ve never had anything like this occur.” More than 300 people were treated on the scene for minor injuries in the first night of the two-day Astroworld Festival, which Scott helped organize, authorities said.

Scott halted his act several times when he saw fans in distress near the stage.

Survivors described chaotic scenes of people squeezed up against one another with many struggling to breathe.

Gavyn Flores, 18, said he was standing on the edge of the crowd near a barricade and could not move, for hours on end. He said he tried to hoist people over that wall.

“People were trying to get out, but you can’t move. So there kind of wasn’t a point of trying to get out, because they couldn’t. But if they could, we were trying to help them get thrown over,” Flores said.

“I am absolutely devastated by what took place last night,” Scott tweeted on Saturday. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.” More than 360 police officers and 240 security guards were on hand for the festival.

Senior Harris County official Lina Hidalgo said it was “an extremely tragic night.” “Our hearts are broken, people go to these events to have a good time, to make memories,” she added. Houston police said the tragedy unfolded quickly.

“Over the course of just a few minutes, suddenly we had several people down on the ground experience some type of cardiac arrest,” assistant police chief Larry Satterwhite said.

Videos shared on social media showed paramedics resuscitating unconscious fans in the audience as the concert continued.

Astroworld organizers canceled the rest of the festival, which had been scheduled to continue on Saturday. Other footage on social media showed scores of people rushing the gates at NRG park, with security unable to contain the flow.

Several people could be seen falling over, bringing down the metal detectors at the arena entrance, but it was unclear if that incident was linked to the deaths. Scott launched the Astroworld music festival in 2018.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2021

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