HOUSTON — More than 50,000 people were at Travis Scott's concert when eight attendees died and several others were in desperate need of medical treatment during the Astroworld Festival, Houston Fire Department confirmed.
Twenty-five people were rushed to local hospitals, and according to Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña, at least 11 of them were experiencing cardiac arrest.
He said the youngest known injured victim was 10, and officials said a 14-year-old Spring Branch ISD high school student was the youngest killed. HFD said about 300 people were treated for minor injuries at a pop-up hospital on the festival grounds.
HFD is still investigating how the "mass casualty incident" unfolded, but initial reports are that a crowd surge happened between about 9:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. while Scott was on stage.
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"The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic and it started causing some injuries," Peña said. "People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic."
Some festivalgoers said they saw many people being shoved, others appearing to be exhausted and some struggling to get out of the crowd to find either water or medical attention.
There are also videos circulating around social media of concertgoers becoming unconscious, being trampled and some mosh pits.
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During the surge at Astroworld Festival, officials said nearly 55 HFD units and 528 Houston Police Department officers, in addition to 755 security officers, were at the chaotic scene.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Live Nation, the event promotor, and NRG Park, where the festival took place, are helping investigators with getting video of the event. Finner said the department is also investigating claims someone was injecting concertgoers with drugs.
Event organizers and Travis Scott released statements saying they are working with Houston police and other authorities.
Astroworld Festival was canceled for Saturday.
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What is a crowd surge?
A crowd surge is when individuals in a large group make a sudden or rapid movement within a confined space, sometimes resulting in people being shoved or even trampled.
It's different from a stampede, in which individuals move toward a single direction, often in a state of panic or confusion.
Crowd surges and stampedes are not a rare occurrence at large concerts but can be dangerous, especially when a person who has been injured goes unnoticed by other attendees or the injured person can't get medical help.
Sometimes injuries can be fatal.
One of the most tragic crowd surge incidents in the U.S. happened during a The Who concert in 1979. Eleven people died and about two dozen others injured as a hoard of fans rushed an entrance at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum.
The Houston Office of Emergency Management has posted phone numbers for those who haven't heard from a loved one who was at the festival. Please call 311 or 713-837-0311.
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