Two children, aged 14 and 16, were among the eight people who died at American rapper Travis Scott's Astroworld music festival in Houston on Friday night (U.S Central Time), the city's mayor said. The other victims ranged in age from 21 to 27, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference. Among the injured is a 10-year-old who is in a critical condition. Scott, an eight-time Grammy-nominated artiste who is hugely popular among young adults, was performing at NRG Park, when the crowd began to push toward the stage.
Responding to the tragedy, Travis Scott issued a statement on social media that read: "I'm absolutely devastated by what took place last night. My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at the Astroworld Festival." At least eight people died and more than 300 injured as fans rushed toward the stage during Scott's headlining performance.
Scott added in his statement: "Houston PD has my total support as they continue to look into the tragic loss of life. I am committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need."
Multiple reports from attendees collated by Variety from its own investigations and media reports, however, allege that security and emergency workers were difficult to find and at times unresponsive during the chaotic scenes at NRG Park. The crowd, in fact, was already rambunctious, with many concertgoers seemingly inebriated.
The first reports that people were falling down and had been injured came around 9.30 p.m. local time. The festival stopped at 10:10 p.m. Some people were trampled in the crush of fans in front of the stage. Around 50,000 people were in attendance.
Summing up the dangers imminent in the post-Covid return to normality, Variety noted: "As the concert world has cautiously returned from 18 months of pandemic lockdown, festivals have been a major force in that comeback, both for fans and promoters. Yet the tragedy at Travis Scott's Astroworld festival ... showed just how quickly disaster can occur."
Meanwhile, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has promised a "thorough review and investigation" of the tragedy. Eleven people suffered cardiac arrest at the show, Turner said, although causes of death, including the possibility of the use of spiked drugs, are under review.
The Mayor added that it was too early to determine whether security precautions were sufficient. He also cautioned against speculation that suspected spiked drugs had caused the cardiac arrests at the show. "I don't even want to go to drug overdoses," Turner said. "We are looking at all potential causes of this incident or what caused the cardiac arrest. We're not taking anything off the table."
(With Inputs from IANS)