At least eight people were killed and dozens more were injured at a music festival in Houston on Friday night after a large crowd “began to compress towards the front of the stage,” the city’s fire chief said at a news conference.
The crowd surge, during a concert by the rapper Travis Scott, “caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,” said the fire chief, Samuel Peña. The concert was part of a two-day music festival that began on Friday.
Twenty-three people were taken to nearby hospitals by emergency responders, Chief Peña said, adding that of those patients, 11 were in cardiac arrest. Over 300 people were treated at a “field hospital” at the site, he said.
The exact causes of death will be determined by the medical examiner, who is investigating the incident, Chief Peña said.
About 50,000 people were attending the festival on Friday night, according to the fire department. Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department said that many details about the disaster were still unclear, including what had caused the crowd to surge forward.
“I’m sending investigators to the hospitals because we just don’t know,” Chief Finner said. “We’re going to do an investigation and find out, because it’s not fair to producers, to anybody else involved, until we determine what happened, what caused the surge.”
“It happened all at once,” Larry Satterwhite, the executive assistant chief of the Houston police, said at the news conference. He said that at one point, several people in the crowd fell to the ground and began experiencing a medical episode. The concert’s organizer, Live Nation, agreed to stop the concert early in the interest of public safety, Chief Satterwhite said.
Investigators said that they had not yet reviewed video from the concert but that Live Nation had promised them access to it.
Officials said that there had been an earlier crowd surge at the entrance to the concert, but that it seemed to be unrelated to the chaotic events that unfolded later.
“Our hearts are broken,” Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, which includes Houston, said at the news conference. “People go to these events looking for a good time,” she said, adding, “It’s not the kind of event where you expect to find out about fatalities.”
The two-day event, called the Astroworld festival, was started in 2018 by Mr. Scott, who is from Houston and who named it after a best-selling album he released that year. The lineup for this year’s festival included Roddy Ricch, Tame Impala, Earth Wind & Fire and Yves Tumor, among others. Chief Peña said the second day of the festival had been canceled.
Aina J. Khan contributed reporting.