At least three young women were trampled to death Wednesday night at a festival in Madrid, Spain, headlined by DJ Steve Aoki. The fatal injuries occurred as the crowd rushed one of the exits. Two more people remain in critical condition.
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According to Spain's El Pais, police are investigating the cause and whether proper security measures were in place at the Thriller Music Park, a dance-music festival featuring Aoki and Autoerotique, among other acts.
A spokesperson for the festival has stated the event was not full and it followed the entry limits of 10,600 in the 12,000-person venue. But, according to SPIN, at least one concertgoer estimated on Twitter that there had been 20,000 people crammed into the space.
Aoki issued a statement this afternoon, saying, he was "devastated to hear" of the tragedy. He continued, "The safety of my fans has always been my top priority and had I known that there was any distress putting people in jeopardy within the venue I would have ended my show immediately. My show in Bilbao, Spain tonight will be cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives and those who are injured. I would like to express my deepest condolences and heart felt prayers to the families and loved ones during this difficult time."
It has been believed a flare in the audience caused the stampede, leading to panic, but a witness has told Spain's Cadena SER the flare was lit "long after the avalanche occurred." Another witness said there was a "human plug" in the only way out.
One young woman who witnessed the event told El Pais, "I lost my friends and I was alone in the middle of the avalanche. I could not breathe... I thought I was dying. I even thought to call my parents and tell them I was dying.
Another young man told the Spanish paper, "I'll never forget the face of horror about a girl with pink shirt that was trapped in the hallway."
The event promoter also issued a statement today. "The triggering of events was apparently launched by an assistant flaming a flare in one of nine vomitory access, not on Centre Court," it read. "This action caused panic and isolation in this part of the venue." The promoter also stressed that the venue was not over capacity, adding, "The capacity certified by the foreign company access control was below the required capacity for this event."
Several fellow DJs and producers have been offering their condolences to Aoki. French hitmaker Martin Solveig tweeted, "so sorry to read this. big thoughts to you and all our spanish friends." And German producer Zedd wrote: "sorry to hear that dude! :("