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8 Dead After Crowd Surge During Travis Scott Set At Astroworld Festival

HOUSTON (AP) — The crowd at a Houston music competition all of a sudden surged towards the stage throughout a efficiency by rapper Travis Scott, squeezing followers so tightly collectively that they might not breathe or transfer their arms and killing eight individuals within the chaos.

The pandemonium unfolded Friday night at Astroworld, a sold-out, two-day occasion in NRG Park with an estimated 50,000 individuals in attendance. As a timer clicked all the way down to the beginning of the efficiency, the gang pushed ahead.

“As soon as he jumped out on the stage, it was like an energy took over and everything went haywire,” concertgoer Niaara Goods stated. “All of a sudden, your ribs are being crushed. You have someone’s arm in your neck. You’re trying to breathe, but you can’t.”

Goods stated she was so determined to get out that she bit a person on the shoulder to get him to maneuver.

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A compression of the gang towards the stage occurred simply after 9 p.m. Friday whereas rapper Travis Scott was performing, stated authorities.

The useless ranged in age from 14 to 27, and 13 individuals have been nonetheless hospitalized Saturday, Mayor Sylvester Turner stated. He referred to as the catastrophe “a tragedy on many different levels” and stated it was too early to attract conclusions about what went incorrect.

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“It may well be that this tragedy is the result of unpredictable events, of circumstances coming together that couldn’t possibly have been avoided,” stated Judge Lina Hidalgo, Harris County’s high elected official. “But until we determine that, I will ask the tough questions.”

Experts who’ve studied deaths caused by crowd surges say they’re typically a results of density — too many individuals packed right into a small area. The crowd is usually working both away from a perceived menace or towards one thing they need, similar to a performer, earlier than hitting a barrier.

G. Keith Still, a visiting professor of crowd science on the United Kingdom’s University of Suffolk, has testified as an knowledgeable witness in court docket circumstances involving crowds. He stated he often doesn’t take a look at eyewitness studies within the early levels of analyzing an incident as a result of feelings can cloud the image, and witnesses can see solely what’s instantly round them.

Based on hearth codes, the venue might have held 200,000 individuals, however metropolis officers restricted the attendance to 50,000, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña stated.

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“It was the crowd control at the point of the stage that was the issue, especially as the crowd began to surge toward the stage,” Peña stated.

The deaths referred to as to thoughts a 1979 concert by the Who where 11 people died as 1000’s of followers tried to get into Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. Other past crowd catastrophes embody the deaths of 97 individuals in an overcrowded Hillsborough Stadium in 1989 in Sheffield, England, and quite a few disasters linked with the annual hajj in Saudi Arabia.

People within the Houston crowd reported numerous pushing and shoving throughout the performances main as much as Scott’s set.

Then when Scott took the stage, the gang appeared to hurry to the entrance, making an attempt to get nearer to the stage, stated Nick Johnson, a highschool senior from the Houston suburb of Friendswood who was on the live performance.

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“Everyone was passing out around you, and everyone was trying to help each other. But you just couldn’t move. You couldn’t do anything. You can’t even pick your arms up,” Johnson stated. “It just got worse and worse.”

Johnson stated followers began to crush one another, and other people began screaming. He stated it felt like 100 levels within the crowd.

Scott gave the impression to be conscious that one thing was occurring within the crowd, however he won’t have understood the severity of the scenario, Johnson stated.

On video posted to social media, Scott could possibly be seen stopping the live performance at one level and asking for help for somebody within the viewers: “Security, somebody help real quick.”

In a tweet posted Saturday, Scott stated he was “absolutely devastated by what took place last night.” He pledged to work “together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need.”

Amy Harris, a contract photographer for The Associated Press, described an “aggressive” crowd ambiance all through the day due to the way in which followers have been behaving — pushing and speeding the stage barricades and prohibited VIP and admission areas.

“It was definitely the most chaotic festival environment that I’ve been in,” Harris stated. “I felt uneasy all day.”

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner stated his division seen attendees “going down” at 9:30 p.m. and instantly notified live performance organizers. The occasion was referred to as off 40 minutes later after discussions that included the hearth division and officers with NRG Park.

Finner defended the period of time it took for the occasion to be canceled.

“You cannot just close when you’ve got 50,000 — over 50,000 — individuals, OK?” Finner stated. “We have to worry about rioting — riots — when you have a group that’s that young.”

At one level, Gerardo Abad-Garcia was pressed so tightly into the gang that he couldn’t transfer his arms off his chest. During the efficiency that got here earlier than Scott’s, he began getting involved for his security.

“I just couldn’t breathe. I was being compressed,” he stated. A safety guard helped him and others climb a fence and get out.

He described the gang throughout Scott’s set as a wave that was “going forward and backward.” He stated some individuals tried to assist those that have been handed out on the bottom, whereas different concertgoers appeared to disregard them and continued watching the present.

Some viewers members stated barricades erected close to the stage and to separate totally different sections of ticket holders prevented followers from escaping.

Billy Nasser described an space created by a stage barricade as a closet that folks have been thrown into and the door was shut. Joshua Robinson stated the barricades created an space that “was just way too small and compact” for the variety of individuals there.

Part of the investigation will embody reviewing how the realm across the stage was designed, the hearth chief stated.

Authorities didn’t disclose the causes of dying, and the useless weren’t instantly recognized.

The police chief stated authorities have been investigating studies of suspicious exercise within the crowd, together with a safety officer who informed police that he felt a prick in his neck throughout the chaos and misplaced consciousness whereas being examined by first responders. He was revived by the opioid antidote Narcan.

Scott, one in every of music’s greatest younger stars, based the Astroworld Festival in 2018. The 29-year-old Houston native has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards. He has a 3-year-old daughter with Kylie Jenner, who introduced in September that she’s pregnant with their second baby.

Drake joined Scott on-stage on the live performance, which was livestreamed by Apple Music.

Associated Press writers Ryan Pearson in Los Angeles, Stan Choe in New York, David Sharp in Portland, Maine, and Desiree Seals in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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