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(HOUSTON) – At least eight people have died, including two teenagers, after a crowd rushed to the stage at a massive concert in Houston, causing panic and chaos, authorities said.
More than 50,000 people were in attendance for the first night of this weekend’s sold-out Astroworld music festival at NRG Stadium when, at around 9:30 p.m. local time, “the crowd began to compress towards the front of the scene, âsaid Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena. journalists Friday evening.
âIt caused some panic and started causing injuries,â Pena said.
Twenty-five people, including one barely 10 years old, were taken to hospital, authorities said. Eleven people were transported into cardiac arrest, Pena added.
As of Saturday afternoon, 13 people were still hospitalized, including five under the age of 18, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters in a briefing.
Those who died were between 14 and 27 years old. One was 14, another 16, two were 21, two were 23 and one was 27, the mayor said. One has not yet been identified.
“Nothing of this magnitude that any of us can remember, and certainly that I can remember, took place in this city,” said Turner.
The cause of death of the eight people will not be known until the medical examiner has completed the investigation, Pena said.
Some of those who died did not have IDs on them, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters on Friday.
A missing persons information command post has been set up in a nearby hotel. As of Saturday afternoon, no one was reported missing, officials said.
The festival ended early Friday night and was canceled for Saturday.
Pena described the chaotic scene in an interview with ABC News‘ Gio Benitez on “Good Morning America” ââon Saturday.
âAs soon as the crowds started pouring inâ¦ these people started to be trapped, basically in the front, and they started to be stepped on and people were falling and passing out,â Pena said.
A bystander said she was pushed “very aggressively”.
âIt was intense, it was intense,â the viewer told âGood Morning Americaâ. “We saw people pulling out of the crowd, and we saw some of these people unconscious.”
Madeline Eskins, who attended the concert with her boyfriend, told ABC News they tried to leave when they started being pushed from all sides towards the front of the stage but couldn’t move .
âI remember I was about to tell him to tell my son that I love him because at that point I was like, ‘I’m going to die,'” Eskins said. “I really didn’t think I was going to see him again. And then I passed out.”
Amid the chaotic scene and the mass of people, it was difficult to disperse the crowd and reach those in need of medical attention, Pena said. Festival organizer Live Nation had set up some sort of field hospital to treat minor injuries during the festival, but this was “quickly overwhelmed.”
Eskins, an intensive care nurse, said once recovered she began helping on-site medical staff treat unconscious bystanders and delegate tasks, though medical supplies, including defibrillators, are limited. .
âI was trying to control the chaos as much as possible,â she said. “Nothing could have prepared them for this.”
The cause of the incident is currently unknown, according to Finner, who said Live Nation is working with police to review video footage from the concert.
“Nobody has all the answers tonight,” he said on Friday. âThere are a lot of rumors going around. We don’t have facts, we don’t have proof.
âWe need to investigate and find out because it’s not fair to the producers, to anyone else involved, until we figure out what happened, what caused the surge. We don’t know. not. We’ll find out. “
Viewers knew something was wrong with a set from headliner Travis Scott. In the middle of his performance, the rapper stopped and told the crowd, “Someone has passed out here,” as captured by an Apple Music livestream of the event.
“I am absolutely devastated by what happened last night,” Scott, from Houston, said in a statement on Twitter on Saturday. “My prayers go out to the families and to all who have been touched by what happened at the Astroworld Festival.”
Scott said the Houston Police Department had their “full support” during the investigation and that he was “committed to working with the Houston community to heal and support families in need.”
Festival organizers also said they were “focused on supporting local officials” and urged anyone with information to contact police.
Live Nation also released a statement Friday saying it was “heartbroken for those lost and affected at Astroworld last night” and “is working to provide as much information and assistance as possible” to local authorities. .
The inquiries will speak with concert promoters and witnesses and examine videos of the event and location on Saturday, according to Turner.
âI requested a detailed briefing from all stakeholders, including Live Nation, Harris County, NRG Park, police, firefighters, the Emergency Management Office and other agencies, explaining how the event got out of hand resulting in the death and injury of several participants, âhe said in a previous statement.
Governor Greg Abbott said he ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to make state resources available to support the investigation.
âWhat happened at the Astroworld festival last night was tragic, and our hearts are with those who lost their lives and those who were injured in the terrifying wave of crowds,â Abbott said in a statement. “Thank you to the first responders and the Good Samaritans who were there and immediately attended to those injured in the crowd.”
This isn’t the first time that there have been crowd control issues at Astroworld. There was a “similar incident” at the 2019 festival, where there was a “breach of barricades,” according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
“Action was taken after this experience. There were stronger fences, more robust barricades, more staff and more security personnel,” Hidalgo told reporters on Saturday.
The number of Houston Police Department officers on site increased from 47 in 2019 to 76 at this year’s festival, she said. There was also additional space for crowd control, she said.
“But I want to know, the community deserves to know, if more needs to be done,” she said, calling for an independent investigation into the tragedy. “The public has a role to play here too. If you have any information about what happened, let us know.”
Frank Elaridi of ABC News contributed to this report.
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