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8 dead, more than a dozen injured at Astroworld Festival in Houston

Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.
Travis Scott performs at Day 1 of the Astroworld Music Festival at NRG Park on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Houston.

Updated 4:58 p.m. CT Saturday

At least eight people are dead and more than a dozen injured after a sold-out Astroworld Festival crowd surged toward the stage during rapper Travis Scott’s set Friday night.

The ages of those killed range from 14 to 27, according to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

A total of 25 people were hospitalized Friday night, and 13 remained in the hospital for treatment as of Saturday afternoon, including five people who are under the age of 18.

"Last night was tragic on many different levels," Turner said at a press conference Saturday afternoon. "This remains a very active investigation. There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered."

The Houston Police Department's homicide and narcotics divisions are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.

Officials confirmed there were several instances of Narcan — a treatment used to counteract the effects of opioid overdose — being administered on scene, but said it’s too early to draw any conclusions.

"We're not taking anything off the table,” said Turner. “Everything will be taken into account until we look at medical information, talk to those who were hospitalized, talk to witnesses — we're going to take a look at everything.”

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said the surge happened after 9 p.m. Friday, when the crowd of about 50,000 began to “compress” towards the stage. The surge caused a panic, and some people became unconscious, he said.

“This is a tragic night,” Peña said at a press conference early Saturday morning.

The show was called off, and the second day of the festival was also canceled. A reunification center was set up at the Wyndham Hotel for people trying to locate loved ones.

The cause of death for the eight people was not immediately known and officials say they're waiting for the results from the medical examiner's office.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said that among those injured were children as young as 10.

“Our hearts are broken,” Hidalgo said. “People go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories. It’s not the kind of event you go to where you expect to find out about fatalities.”

Videos shared on social media show chaotic scenes with people shoving and calling for help.

In one, a woman is seen climbing up onto a riser and screaming to a cameraman that someone is dead. Another video shows paramedics carrying out a man who appears to be unconscious.

Sofia Gonzalez, a former Houston Public Media intern, was at the concert with her boyfriend. She said she had never been in such an aggressive crowd before.

"My feet weren’t even on the ground. I was being pushed everywhere. I was having to hold onto my friends for dear life," she said. "At the third song, my boyfriend and I were like we cannot stay in this crowd, we are going to pass out."

But Gonzalez said as they tried to leave people were calling them names and refusing to let them out. It wasn't until another attendee started blowing a whistle to help clear a space that they were able to find a path out.

"I was telling myself, ‘you’re going to be okay, just push through. You have to get out of this crowd,’" she said. "After we got out my boyfriend was over the railing for a good five minutes just catching his breath. It was insane."

Travis Scott was silent overnight, releasing a statement on Twitter midmorning Saturday.

“My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld Festival," he said. "I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need."

He added that the Houston Police Department has his “total support” as they investigate the deaths.

In astatement released on its social media platforms Saturday morning, the Astroworld organizers said they're focused on helping local officials.

"Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight — especially those we lost and their loved ones," it read. "As authorities mentioned in their press conference earlier, they are looking into the series of cardiac arrests that took place. If you have any relevant information on this, please reach out to Houston Police. Thank you to our partners at the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their response and support."

Copyright 2021 Houston Public Media News 88.7. To see more, visit Houston Public Media News 88.7.

Paul DeBenedetto