At least eight people died and several were wounded in a crush at the Astroworld music festival in the southern US state of Texas on Friday night, authorities said.
Houston fire chief Samuel Pena said the incident began at around 9 pm when “the crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage”.
“That caused some panic and it started causing some injuries, people began to fall out, become unconscious and it created additional panic,” Pena said at a press conference outside NRG Park.
“We had at least eight confirmed fatalities tonight and scores of individuals that were injured,” he said, adding the cause of death cannot be confirmed until after medical exams are completed.
“We transported 17 patients to the hospital… 11 of those that were transported were in cardiac arrest,” he said.
Around 50,000 people were in the crowd at American rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival, Pena added.
Scott was on stage when the incident occurred and stopped his act on several occasions when he saw fans in distress near the stage, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Houston police said they were investigating the cause of the mass casualty incident and looking at video footage from the arena.
“Over the course of just a few minutes, suddenly we had several people down on the ground experience some type of cardiac arrest,” police chief Larry J Satterwhite said, adding they then met with concert organisers and the event was ended.
Authorities later said the festival has been cancelled and will not continue on Saturday.
Footage from NRG park circulating on social media showed scores of people rushing the gates with security at the gates unable to contain the flow.
Several people could be seen falling over, bringing down the metal detectors at the arena entrance but it is unclear if that incident was linked to the deaths.
However, authorities said more than 300 people were injured throughout the day at the event, including those with minor scrapes and bruises.
Astroworld is a music festival created by Scott and launched in 2018.
The 29-year-old rapper, who has a child with celebrity socialite Kylie Jenner, made his breakthrough in 2013 and has had six Grammy nominations.
Other acts scheduled to play the festival over the weekend included the rappers Chief Keef and 21 Savage, as well as the Australian rock act Tame Impala.
During Scott’s headline set late Friday, he was joined onstage by Canadian rap superstar Drake.
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