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Houston Leaders Seek Clues For Deadly Astroworld Concert Surge

HOUSTON (AP) — Authorities mentioned they might watch video, interview witnesses and evaluate live performance protocols to find out how eight folks died at a Houston music competition when followers all of the sudden surged towards the stage to look at rapper Travis Scott.

City officers mentioned Saturday they had been within the early phases of investigating the pandemonium that unfolded Friday night at Astroworld, a sold-out, two-day occasion in NRG Park with an estimated 50,000 folks in attendance. One attendee mentioned that as a timer clicked right down to the beginning of Scott’s efficiency, the group 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 mentioned. “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 mentioned she was so determined to get out that she bit a person on the shoulder to get him to maneuver.

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

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Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks at the press conference addressing the cancellation of the Astroworld festival at the Wyndham Hotel family reunification center on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks on the press convention addressing the cancellation of the Astroworld competition on the Wyndham Hotel household reunification middle on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Alex Bierens de Haan through Getty Images

“It may well be that this tragedy is the result of unpredictable events, of circumstances coming together that couldn’t possibly have been avoided,” mentioned 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 usually a results of density — too many individuals packed right into a small house. The crowd is commonly working both away from a perceived risk or towards one thing they need, corresponding 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 professional witness in courtroom instances involving crowds. He mentioned he often doesn’t take a look at eyewitness reviews within the early phases of analyzing an incident as a result of feelings can cloud the image, and witnesses can see solely what’s instantly round them.

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Based on fireplace codes, the venue may have held 200,000 folks, however metropolis officers restricted the attendance to 50,000, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña mentioned.

“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 mentioned.

Flowers are seen outside of the canceled Astroworld festival at NRG Park on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Flowers are seen exterior of the canceled Astroworld competition at NRG Park on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Alex Bierens de Haan through Getty Images

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

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People within the Houston crowd reported plenty of pushing and shoving through the performances main as much as Scott’s set.

Then when Scott took the stage, the group appeared to hurry to the entrance, attempting to get nearer to the stage, mentioned Nick Johnson, a highschool senior from the Houston suburb of Friendswood who was on the live performance.

“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 mentioned. “It just got worse and worse.”

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

Scott appeared to be conscious that one thing was happening within the crowd, however he won’t have understood the severity of the scenario, Johnson mentioned. A social media posting exhibits followers who seem like dozens of rows from the stage chanting “stop the show” whereas Scott is performing. Another submit exhibits two followers climbing a ladder aboard a platform and asking a cameraman to do one thing.

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

A street sign showing the cancellation of the AstroWorld Festival at NRG Park on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
A road signal exhibiting the cancellation of the AstroWorld Festival at NRG Park on November 6, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Alex Bierens de Haan through Getty Images

In a tweet posted Saturday, Scott mentioned 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 environment all through the day due to the way in which followers had 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 mentioned. “I felt uneasy all day.”

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner mentioned his division observed 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 fireplace 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 mentioned. “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 group 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 mentioned. A safety guard helped him and others climb a fence and get out.

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

Travis Scott performs during 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Erika Goldring/WireImage)
Travis Scott performs throughout 2021 Astroworld Festival at NRG Park on November 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Erika Goldring/WireImage)

Erika Goldring through Getty Images

Some viewers members mentioned 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 had been thrown into and the door was shut. Joshua Robinson mentioned the barricades created an space that “was just way too small and compact” for the variety of folks there.

Part of the investigation will embody reviewing how the world across the stage was designed, the fireplace chief mentioned.

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

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

Scott, certainly one of music’s largest 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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