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Triumphant Return of Astroworld Festival Turns Tragic as Panicked Crowd Kills Eight at Houston Concert

In a still-developing situation, the triumphant return of Travis Scott's amusement park-themed Astroworld Festival following a one-year hiatus for Covid-19, turned into a tragedy Friday night in Houston when the crowd — estimated to have been 50,000 strong —rushed the stage at NRG Park when chaos erupted leaving eight people dead and 300 injured.

At a press conference on Friday night, Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña said the trouble began at around 9 or 9:15 p.m. local time when "the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic." 

According to Peña, that initial rush had transformed into a "mass casualty" event by 9:38 p.m. local time at and the concert's medical tent and staff was "quickly overwhelmed" by its scale. HFD dispatched 50 units and along with Harris County Emergency Services initially transported 17 people to hospitals, 11 of which were in cardiac arrest.

"I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I have never seen something like this,” Peña added Saturday after telling reporters at a follow-up press conference that authorities still don't know what caused the initial surge of the crowd up toward the stage, but the Houston Police Department is looking at video that was taken from cameras that were present there for security purposes and other reasons.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner confirmed that 25 people were hospitalized in total following the incident and that the ages of seven victims ranged in age between 14 and 27, while one victim's age still remains to be determined.

What happened at Astroworld Festival was a tragedy," Turner, who also called for a detailed briefing from all stakeholders, including Live Nation, said in a statement. "An estimated 50,000 people attended the event Friday night, expecting to enjoy a music concert with friends and return home safely. I extend my condolences to the families of the eight people who died and the approximately 17 people who were injured at the event. 


Live Nation made the call to "essentially pull the plug" on the event on Friday according to Peña, "when the situation started to escalate.” Saturday's events were also canceled by Live Nation, which posted on Twitter that it was, "Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night. We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation."

Scott, who launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018 with the intent to “bring back the beloved spirit and nostalgia of [iconic Houston theme park] AstroWorld, making a childhood dream of Travis’ come true," was "devastated" by Friday's outcome.

My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life.

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