(HOUSTON) — At least eight people are dead after a crowd surged toward the stage at a massive Houston concert, causing panic and chaos, authorities said.
Over 50,000 people were at the first night of this weekend’s sold-out Astroworld music festival at NRG Stadium when, around 9:30 p.m. local time, “the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena told reporters Friday night.
“That caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” Pena said.
Pena described the chaotic scene in an interview with ABC News’ Gio Benitez on “Good Morning America” Saturday.
“As soon as the crowd began to surge … those people began to be trapped, essentially up at the front, and they began to be trampled and they actually had people falling down and passing out,” Pena said.
One concertgoer said she was pushed “very aggressively.”
“It was intense, it was intense,” the concertgoer told “Good Morning America.” “We were seeing people getting pulled out of the crowd, and we would see some of these people unconscious.”
Amid the chaotic scene and mass of people it was difficult to disperse the crowd and reach those who needed medical attention, Pena said. The festival organizer, Live Nation, had set up a field hospital of sorts to treat minor injuries during the festival, but that was “quickly overwhelmed.”
Twenty-three people, including one as young as 10, were transported to the hospital, authorities said. Eleven people were transported in cardiac arrest, Pena added.
The cause of death of the eight individuals won’t be known until the medical examiner completes the investigation, Pena said.
No further details have been released on the deceased victims. Some didn’t have identification on them, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters Friday.
A command post for information on missing persons was set up at a nearby hotel. The festival ended early Friday night and has been canceled for Saturday.
The cause of the incident is currently unknown, according to Finner, who said Live Nation is cooperating with police in reviewing video footage of the concert.
“Nobody has all the answers tonight,” he said Friday. “There’s a lot of rumors going around. We don’t have facts, we don’t have evidence.
“We’ve got 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. We don’t know. We will find out.”
The Houston Fire Department has scheduled an update on the investigation for 3 p.m. local time Saturday.
Concertgoers knew something was amiss during a set by headliner Travis Scott. During the middle of his performance, the rapper stopped and told the crowd, “Somebody passed out right here,” as captured by an Apple Music livestream of the event.
“I’m absolutely devastated by what took palace last night,” Scott, a Houston native, said in a statement on Twitter Saturday. “My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival.”
Scott said the Houston Police Department has his “total support” during the investigation, and that he is “committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”
Festival organizers also said they are “focused on supporting local officials,” and urged anyone with information to contact the police.
Investigations will be speaking with concert promoters and witnesses and reviewing videos from the event and venue on Saturday, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“I have called for a detailed briefing from all stakeholders, including Live Nation, Harris County, NRG Park, Police, Fire, Office of Emergency Management, and other agencies, explaining how the event got out of control leading to the deaths and injuries of several attendees,” he said in a statement.
Gov. Greg Abbott said he has ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to make state resources available to support the investigation.
“What happened at Astroworld Festival last night was tragic, and our hearts are with those who lost their lives and those who were injured in the terrifying crowd surge,” Abbott said in a statement. “Thank you to the first responders and good Samaritans who were on site and immediately tended to those who were injured in the crowd.”
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