NEWS

Everything We Know About The Astroworld Tragedy

An investigation is underway.
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On November 5th 2021, American rapper Travis Scott took to a Houston stage for the Astroworld festival in what was supposed to be a joyous celebration of live music.

But celebration quickly turned to tragedy as ten people were left dead, with many more injured.

WATCH: Travis Scott addresses Astroworld tragedy

What happened?

The events of the night are currently being investigated. What has been reported so far is that around 50,000 people (as well as a reported unspecified amount of non-ticket holders who breached security) attended the Astroworld music festival on November 5th in Houston, Texas, at NRG Park. At some point in the night, the crowd began to rush towards the stage.

“The crowd for whatever reason began to push and surge towards the front of the stage, which caused the people in the front to be compressed — they were unable to escape that situation,” Houston fire chief Sam Peña told CNN.

Reports from concert-goers claim that they were being compressed to the point they couldn’t breathe. Many could not move and fell to the ground with difficulty getting back up. Multiple people passed out. More than 300 audience members were treated at an on-site field hospital and at least 13 remained hospitalised on Sunday. Ten people have been reported dead from the incident.

The reason for the crowd surge is currently being investigated, with officials saying that “safety precautions had been taken”.

Peña also said that there were 528 Houston Police officers at the event, 755 private security guards, as well as an unspecified number of medics by a third-party company. Some accounts have reported that multiple security guards quit during the night.

Peña put the issue down to “crowd control”, saying that the third-party vendors were “quickly overwhelmed” by the surge and number of casualties.

“It was the crowd control at the point of the stage that caused the issue, especially as the crowd started to surge up towards the stage, so that’s what we’re going to be keying in on in regards to the investigation.”

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The events of Astroworld are being investigated. (Credit: Getty)

Were people being injected with drugs?

On Saturday, TMZ reported that “a source connected to Astroworld” claimed that “someone in the crowd went crazy and began injecting people with some sort of drug”. 

Houston Police Department chief Troy Finner responded to the claims during a press briefing.

“One of the narratives was that some individual was injecting other people with drugs,” he said, before revealing there was a report of a security officer who “felt a prick in his neck”.

“When he was examined, he went unconscious,” Finner said. “He was revived and the medical staff did notice a prick that was similar to a prick that you would get if somebody is trying to inject [a person].”

Authorities also revealed that Narcan (a medication administered to those suspected of undergoing an Opioids overdose) had been administered “several” times at the concert.

Additionally, the Fire Department revealed that 11 of the patients taken to hospital were experiencing cardiac arrest – the cause of which is not yet clear.

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“It was the crowd control at the point of the stage that caused the issue,” said Houston fire chief Sam Peña. (Credit: Getty)

What was done to try and stop it?

The timeline of the night is fuzzy. But there is footage of concert-goers yelling for help as people were compressed to the point they couldn’t breathe.

Audience member Seanna Faith even climbed a ladder to a platform where a cameraman was filming the show in an attempt to get help. She documented her experience on Instagram.

“I saw the cameraman, eyes glued to the stage, elevated on a platform. A platform that looked directly into the crowd. I climbed the ladder and pointed to the hole, telling him people were dying. He told me to get off the platform and continued filming.

“I screamed over and over again. He wouldn’t even look in the direction, so I pushed the camera so it pointed toward where I had just come from. He became angry. He called someone else up. I told him the same thing…

“The other man grabbed my arm, and told me he would push me off the 15ft platform with no sides if I didn’t get down.”

She then explained how she called 911 who said they were calling the medical team in. Then after bumping into two men in red medical shirts, these men climbed the gates and went to help people.

At the same time that Seanna mounted the platform to request help, another concert-goer was also captured climbing the same platform yelling: “Stop the show.”

It has been reported that Fire officials initiated a “mass-casualty incident around 9:30pm”.

Finner has said that police officials immediately told concert organisers about the escalating problems and the event was cancelled 40 minutes later.

“You cannot just close [it down] when you have over 50,000 individuals, OK?” he said in defence of not shutting the event down immediately. “We have to worry about riots when you have a group that’s that young. It was a cooperation and discussion between promoters, my fire department, the police department and NRG officials. I think that part was pretty good.”

The HPD chief also attested that he visited Travis Scott personally ahead of the performance to express concerns about the safety of the event.

“In my 31 years of law enforcement experience I have never seen a time with more challenges facing citizens of all ages to include a global pandemic and social tension throughout the nation.

“I asked Travis Scott and his team to work with HPD for all events over the weekend and to be mindful of his social-media messaging on any unscheduled events.”

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Houston Police Department chief Troy Finner attested that he visited Travis Scott personally ahead of the performance to express concerns about the safety of the event. (Credit: Getty)

What did Travis Scott do?

Amid the screams to stop the show, Travis paused the performance multiple times. The first time was reportedly after he witnessed an ambulance in the crowd.

“There’s an ambulance in the … whoah whoah,” he said, before continuing the show, saying “Two hands to the sky, I want to make this … ground shake.”

Soon after, the rapper paused again after seeing an audience member passed out.

“We need somebody to help, somebody passed out right here. … Don’t touch him, don’t touch him, everybody just back up. Security, somebody help, jump in real quick.”

According to Houston Chronicle’s music critic, Joey Guerra, Travis stopped the show “three or four times when he noticed people in distress”, according to CNN.

There is also footage of Travis continuing to sing while fans scream for help; the rapper has since claimed he wasn’t aware of the severity of the situation until after the fact.

Many have called out Travis for his response to the situation, comparing it to the actions of other artists who have experienced similar occurrences of crowd safety issues and responded differently. 

In footage from a 2018 concert, former One Direction member Niall Horan paused a show after noticing the crowd swaying.

“There’s a good chance that this show is gonna get cancelled at some stage,” the singer said. “Your security is my responsibility. There is a ton of room down the back of this room everybody doesn’t need to be like this,” he said while mimicking being squished with his arms held in front of his chest.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt or squashed. This swaying is very dangerous. It’s not gonna work for the rest of the night. Let’s organise this before we go any further.”

What has Travis said about the event?

After the event, a statement was released via Travis Scott’s official Twitter account in which he said he was “absolutely devastated” by the events of the festival.

“My prayers go out to the families and all those impacted by what happened at Astroworld. 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. Thank you to Houston PD, Fire Department and NRG Park for their immediate response and support.”

“Love You All.”

Late Saturday night, Travis also shared a seven-part video to his Instagram stories to further respond to the tragedy. In the black-and-white footage, he rubbed his forehead and said he was “devastated”.

“My fans really mean the world to me,” he said. “I always want to leave them with a positive experience. I could never imagine the severity of the situation.”

On December 9th, Travis sat down with American radio, television personality, and author, Charlamagne tha God, for a 50-minute interview about the tragedy.

During the conversation, the rapper stressed he has been on an “emotional roller coaster” since the festival, revealing he’s been dealing with “a lot of grieving” as he learned exactly what happened during the show.

“It wasn’t really until like minutes until the press conference until I figured out exactly what happened. Even after the show, you’re just kind of hearing things, but I didn’t know the exact details.

“And even at that moment you’re like, ‘Wait, what?’, Travis said. “People pass out, things happen at concerts, but something like that …” he continued, not finishing the thought.

He went on to stress how “connected” he feels with his fans and how the tragedy has affected the community as a whole. It’s also been revealed that the rapper offered to pay for the victims’ funerals – a gesture which was declined by some families.

Charlamagne also asked Travis if he thinks “raging” culture contributed to the tragedy, to which the rapper replied: “Nah, it’s something I’ve been working on for a while of just creating these experiences… as artists we trust professionals to make sure that if things happen, people leave safely. In concerts, we’ve grown it to be an experience of having fun, not harm. It’s about letting go and having fun.”

When asked if he feels any responsibility over the tragedy, Travis said that he has “a responsibility to figure out what happened here”.

“I have a responsibility to figure out the solution. Hopefully this takes a first step for us as artists, having more insight about what’s going on.”

Also attending the concert was Travis’ partner Kylie Jenner and their three-year-old daughter, Stormi, along with Kylie’s sister Kendall Jenner. Travis and Kylie are also currently expecting their second child.

While Travis performed, Kylie shared since-deleted footage from the festival to her Instagram story which featured an ambulance in the middle of the crowd.

A day after the concert, Kylie also took to her Instagram stories to respond to the tragedy with a statement.

“Travis and I are broken and devastated,” she wrote. “My thoughts and prayers are with all those who lost their lives, were injured or affected in anyway by yesterday’s events. And also for Travis who I know cares deeply for his fans and the Houston community.”

The 24-year-old also claimed that she and Travis “weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show”.

“In no world would have continued filming or performing,” she wrote.

Additionally. Travis and the Astroworld festival organisers announced that they will be issuing a “full refund” to everyone who bought tickets to the concert.

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Kylie shared a statement via her Instagram story. (Credit: Instagram)

Where does Drake come into all of this?

Canadian rapper Drake also briefly took the stage with Travis. The performer broke his silence about the tragedy yesterday, taking to his Instagram to share a statement.

“I’ve spent the past few days trying to wrap my mind around this devastating tragedy,” he wrote.

“I hate resorting to this platform to express an emotion as delicate as grief but this is where I find myself.

“My heart is broken for the families and friends of those who lost their lives and for anyone who is suffering. 

“I will continue to pray for all of them, and will be of service in any way I can. May God be will you all.”

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Drake issued a statement about Astroworld via his Instagram. (Credit: Instagram)

What happens now?

Like we said, the events of the night are currently under investigation to determine what caused the crowd surge.

Over 300 lawsuits have been filed since the tragedy. The first was last month on behalf of injured concert-goer Manuel Souza in the Harris County District Court, according to Billboard. 

The lawsuit names Travis, Astroworld organiser Scoremore, and concert giant Live Nation as defendants and seeks more than US$1 million in damages for what his lawyers deem “gross negligence”.

Discussions have evolved about whether or not Travis Scott will be charged for the events. The rapper has been charged twice in the past for encouraging fans to breach security guidelines.

In 2015, Travis was sentenced to one year of court supervision after he pleaded guilty to reckless conduct charges after encouraging fans to vault security barricades at Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival.

Two years later, the rapper was arrested after encouraging fans to bypass security and rush the stage while performing in Arkansas – leaving several injured.

For now, the investigation into Astroworld is still underway.

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