AT least eight people are dead and hundreds are said to be injured following a crush at the opening night of rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival.
The crowd is said to have surged towards the stage while Scott was performing at the third annual Astroworld music festival at NRG Park in Houston on Friday.
A crowd of 50,000 showed up for the two-day event, which sold out within an hour of tickets going live in May this year.
Officials in Texas said the crowd began to “compress towards the front of the stage” at around 9.15pm, sparking panic.
They transported 17 people to hospitals with 11 of them in cardiac arrest.
It is feared hundreds more are injured, including children as young as 10.
Addressing a press briefing in the early hours this morning, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said: “We had at least eight confirmed fatalities today. We had scores of individuals injured at this event.”
He added that a “mass casualty incident” was triggered at 9.38pm and investigations are ongoing.
Chief Pena told reporters: “At approximately 9.15pm the crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries.
“People began to fallout, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.”
Several people were treated at the scene at NRG Park, where a field hospital was set up.
Harrowing footage on social media shows the distressing scenes as paramedics perform CPR on several people in the crowd.
It remains unclear how many people were injured as of early Saturday morning, but authorities told FOX 26 several people were in need of medical attention.
One concert-goer revealed his horror as he saw a young woman snap her ankle in the chaos.
He told The Sun: “Myself and eight friends made it out safe. Imagine thousands of people pushing you forward – over 50,000 plus people.
“I’ve never been to a concert this chaotic. The smaller individuals, under 5ft 4 were like struggling for air. Children being trampled.
“I was holding onto the rail with my buddies, I had it easy. I saw many people cry and scream.”
The show was called off shortly after the horror crush and the second day of the event has also been cancelled, ABC reports.
A large number of police and fire fighters were scrambled to the area of the event on Friday night.
According to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, organizers paused the concert when they realised how many people had been hurt.
“At some point, the show was stopped when the crowd was surging,” Mr Finner said.
He added that it was too early to determine what caused the crowd surge and urged people not to speculate.
The Houston Chronicle said Scott stopped a number of 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 all okay and get them out of the crowd safely.
Emergency vehicles, lights and alarms flashing, could be seen cutting through the crowds.
A command post has been set up at the nearby Wyndham Hotel to help any families missing loved ones from the event.
Our hearts are broken. People go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories.Lina HidalgoHarris County Judge, Houston
Lina Hidalgo, the Harris County judge, told KHOU-TV of Houston: “Our hearts are broken.
“People go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories.
“It’s not the kind of event you go to where you expect to find out about fatalities.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner called for calm and urged people not to jump to conclusions as to what caused last night’s surge.
“I think it’s very important that none of us speculate,” he said.
“Nobody has all the answers tonight.”
He added that there have been several rumors surrounding the event that authorities would look into.
“We’re going 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,” he said.
“We don’t know, but we will find out.”
Authorities said more than 300 people were injured throughout the day at the event, including those with minor scrapes and bruises.
An ABC News reporter from Houston’s local affiliate, Mycah Hatfield, reported on Twitter that an earlier stampede took place when doors opened at 2 p.m.
The reporter wrote: “A stampede burst through the gates.
“People were trampled. Some were detained.”
Astroworld is rapper Travis Scott’s music festival and is being attended by a host of celebrities, including Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner.
Tickets sold for $180 for general admission and $490 for ‘stargazer’ tickets.
The event sold out its 100,000 tickets within an hour of going on sale in May, ABC 13 reported.
It came after the show was cancelled during the pandemic last year.