Editor’s Note: Read the latest update on this story here: Authorities are investigating the causes behind a deadly crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival in Houston
Members of a densely packed crowd surged toward a stage and were crushed against each other at a Houston music festival Friday night. At least eight people were killed and scores of others were injured in the chaos, witnesses and officials said.
The victims were 14, 16, two were 21, two were 23 and one was 27 years old, while one of the victim’s ages remains unknown, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced in a news conference Saturday evening. There are no people reported missing, the mayor added.
At least 25 people were transported to the hospital and of those, 13 remained hospitalized Saturday afternoon, the mayor said. Five of them are under 18 years old, he added.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions,” Turner said. “Over the next several days, several weeks, could be even longer, we’ll take an in-depth look at everything that took place, why it took place, what steps we can do moving forward to mitigate an incident of this kind from taking place.”
About 50,000 people were at the sold-out Astroworld Festival at NRG Park – the stadium complex where the Astrodome and the NRG Stadium stand – when the incident began just after 9 p.m. CT, officials said.
Video from the event showed the performer on an outdoor stage – rapper and event organizer Travis Scott – pause and look on in confusion as an ambulance with flashing lights moved into the densely packed crowd.
“Once (Scott) started, all hell broke loose,” concert-goer Alexis Guavin, 23, told CNN. “All of what is to be 50,000 people ran to the front, compressing everyone together with the little air available.”
Guavin added there were “mosh pits in every single direction.”
The company responsible for organizing the event, Live Nation, issued a statement saying they were “heartbroken for those lost and impacted.”
“We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation,” the statement said.
‘I realized that people were dying’
People there described being increasingly squeezed in the minutes before Scott’s performance began, and then feeling crushed and seeing others pass out and scream in terror once his show started.
“The crowd was squishing me so much that I felt like I couldn’t breathe,” Emily Munguia, 22, told CNN. “I started screaming for help … I felt so scared, like I was going to die.”
“The amount of people I saw get hurt, passed out, bleeding, crying is crazy,” Munguia said.
When Scott came onstage, “everything started to happen,” audience member Anita Amper said.
“People just went berserk. I realized that people were dying,” Amper, 22, told CNN.
The crowd “for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed,” Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña told CNN Saturday morning.
“People began to fall out, become unconscious,” Peña said at a news conference.
Another woman in the crowd, Madeline Eskins, ultimately passed out and was apparently crowd-surfed to safety, she wrote in an Instagram post.
As a timer on a screen counted down 30 minutes to Scott’s performance, “people compressed up against each other and were pushing forward and backward,” and it got progressively worse, Eskins told CNN Saturday.
“I was having constant pressure on my chest, constant pressure on my back. From the side, I was being squeezed,” she said.
“Right when he started performing his first song, I looked at my boyfriend and said, ‘We have to get out of here.’ He said, ‘I can’t – we can’t,’” Eskins recalled.
“And I just remember looking up and passing out,” and then going in and out of consciousness, she said. She remembers being pulled over a fence, and ultimately waking up for good in a chair, she said.
The deadly surge came hours after at least one person was injured when people rushed through a VIP entrance to the event in the afternoon.
And it came two years after three people were trampled and injured at the same festival as many rushed to enter in 2019.
Friday’s horror brought an early end to what was supposed to be a two-day event, as Saturday’s portion was canceled. Astroworld was in its third iteration, having been launched by native Houstonian Scott in 2018 at the park, which used to be the site of the SIx Flags Astroworld.
More than 300 people treated at field hospital
More than 300 people were treated at a field hospital set up near the festival Friday, Peña said.
One of the patients hospitalized is 10 years old, and at last check was in critical condition, Peña told CNN Saturday morning.