Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña confirmed the casualties during a late press conference, calling it “a tragic night” for the city. He estimated the attendance at 50,000 and said trouble started brewing shortly after 9 p.m. “The crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage and that caused some panic and started causing some injuries. People began to fall out and become unconscious and that created additional panic,” said Peña, flanked by local officials from the police and fire departments.
He said a “mass casualty” incident was triggered at 9:38 p.m., shortly after which his team transported 17 patients to the hospital, 11 of which were in cardiac arrest at the time. Astroworld organizers had a medical tent on-site but Peña said festival staff “were quickly overwhelmed” by the situation, leading his team to step in and dispatch as many as 50 units.
Videos shared on social media show a chaotic scene. Early in the evening, in a separate incident, hundreds of concert-goers toppled steel barricades and stormed through security to access the concert. Later, as the tragedy was already underway, medical personnel can be seen carrying young people out on stretchers and attempting CPR on others. One clip showed Scott still on stage performing as several concertgoers attempted to inform security guards of the emergency.
Friday’s festival lineup featured artists including SZA, Master P, Yves Tumor, Toro y Moi, Roddy Rich, Lil Baby and Scott, who was scheduled to close the night from 8:45-10 p.m. He brought out a surprise guest in Drake.
Reps for Astroworld confirmed the Saturday (Nov. 6) segment of the festival was canceled in a statement: “Our hearts are with the Astroworld Festival family tonight – especially those we lost and their loved ones. We are focused on supporting local officials however we can. With that in mind the festival will no longer be held on Saturday. 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 @HoustonPolice.Thank you to our partners at the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, and NRG Park for their response and support.”
Peña said the investigation will continue as they attempt to identify patients and casualties. A reunification center has been opened at the Wyndham Houston Hotel for family members who may not have heard from their relatives that attended the show. “We are coordinating with organizers and that will continue to move forward as the hours go by,” he added.
He was joined at the press conference by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who called it “an extremely tragic night.”
“Our hearts are broken. 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 to find out about fatalities.”
This year’s event marked the third annual Astroworld put on by Scott, who grew up in Missouri City, outside of Houston. Per organizers, the 2021 edition expanded to two days due to demand. The sold-out event is one of the largest put on by the city.