HOUSTON: A crush triggered by a crowd surging towards the stage at a Travis Scott rap concert in Texas left at least eight people dead and others wounded amid scenes of chaos and panic, authorities said on Saturday (Nov 6).
About 50,000 people were in the audience at Houston's NRG Park on Friday night when the crowd started pushing toward the stage as Scott was performing.
"That caused some panic and it started causing some injuries, people began to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic," Houston fire chief Samuel Pena said at a press conference on Friday night.
"We had at least eight confirmed fatalities tonight and scores of individuals that were injured," he said, adding the cause of death could not be confirmed until after medical exams were completed.
Pena said 17 people were rushed to hospital, with 11 of them in cardiac arrest.
More than 300 people were treated on the scene for minor injuries, authorities said.
Scott halted his act several times when he saw fans in distress near the stage, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Survivors described chaotic scenes of people squeezed up against one another and many struggling to breathe, the Chronicle reported.
"We were hanging on to each other to avoid getting separated," one survivor said. "If you let go, you could easily drift apart."
One concert-goer quoted in the paper described carrying a man who had fallen to safety over barricades in the arena and watching paramedics perform CPR.
More than 360 police officers and 240 security guards were on hand for the two-day music festival called Astroworld.
'Extremely tragic night'
Senior Harris County official Lina Hidalgo said it was "an extremely tragic night".
"Our hearts are broken, people go to these events to have a good time, to make memories," she added.
Houston police are investigating the cause of the incident and looking at video footage from the arena.
"Over the course of just a few minutes, suddenly we had several people down on the ground experience some type of cardiac arrest," assistant police chief Larry Satterwhite said.
"We immediately started doing CPR and moving people right then."
Videos shared on social media showed paramedics resuscitating unconscious fans in the audience as the concert continued.
Astroworld organizers cancelled the rest of the festival, scheduled to continue on Saturday.
"Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight - especially those we lost and their loved ones," they said on the event's Instagram page. "We are focused on supporting local officials".
Other footage on social media showed scores of people rushing the gates at NRG park, with security unable to contain the flow.
Several people could be seen falling over, bringing down the metal detectors at the arena entrance, but it was unclear if that incident was linked to the deaths.
Scott launched the Astroworld music festival in 2018.
The 29-year-old rapper, a Houston native who has a child with celebrity socialite Kylie Jenner, made his breakthrough in 2013 and has had six Grammy nominations.
Other performers scheduled to play the festival over the weekend included the rappers Chief Keef and 21 Savage, as well as the Australian rock band Tame Impala.
During Scott's headline set late Friday, he was joined onstage by Canadian rap superstar Drake.