After last year’s event was canceled, Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival returned to Houston Friday to tragedy.
At least eight people were killed, and 300 others injured when a huge crowd surged toward the stage at the music festival causing panic and a stampede, the Associated Press reported.
“People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña told reporters. “This was a tragic night.”
The tragedy occurred while rapper and festival founder Travis Scott was on stage around 9:15 p.m.
KHOU-TV in Houston reported problems started as soon as the festival opened when “a huge crowd pushed their way through the entrance gates.”
It wasn't a pretty sight as the gates began to open at NRG Stadium for the first day of the Astroworld festival. Video captured festival-goers getting trampled as a huge crowd pushed their way through the entrance gates.
— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) November 5, 2021
Later in the evening when the surge happened near the stage, some people were taken to hospitals in cardiac arrest, said Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite.
“And so we immediately started doing CPR and moving people right then,” said Satterwhite who was near the front of the crowd. He added that the surge “happened all at once.”
As panic ensued, people in the crowd were trampled. Some of the victims were as young as 10 years old, authorities said.
Festival organizers released a statement Friday night offering condolences to the victims and their families.
“Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight — especially those we lost and their loved ones,” said the statement posted on Twitter. “We are supporting local officials however we can.”
— ASTROWORLD FEST (@astroworldfest) November 6, 2021
The music festival abruptly ended during the chaos and Saturday’s day 2 performances were canceled.
Friday’s lineup drew 50,000 music fans to NRG Park to watch Scott and other artists perform. The festival website said the event had been sold out.
The Houston Office of Emergency Management urged those who haven’t heard from loved ones at the festival to call 311 or 713-837-0311, according to KHOU-TV.
The festival was launched in 2018. Scott has previously said it was created to “bring back the beloved spirit and nostalgia of Astroworld” making a childhood dream come true. The festival was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and fans had eagerly awaited its return this weekend.