Content warning: This report contains disturbing images.
A criminal investigation continues into the deaths of at least 10 people in a crowd surge at the Astroworld Festival in Houston where rapper Travis Scott was performing on Nov. 5.
Eight people died on the day of the event. The ninth, a 22-year-old college student, died Nov. 10 in a hospital. The tenth, and youngest, Ezra Blount, 9, died Nov. 14 in a hospital in a medically induced coma.
Victims ranged in age from 9 to 27 but causes of all the deaths have not yet been released. Two dozen people were reported injured.
Read more | USA TODAY exclusive: “This is when it all got real” Firefighter log reveals deadly moments at Astroworld
The surge began when the crowd, excitedly awaiting Scott’s arrival, began pushing toward the stage. It soon escalated. People were packed so tightly together they literally couldn’t breathe. Police are trying to determine what happened.
Hours before Scott took to the Chills Stage, attendees knocked down crowd-control fencing. USA TODAY reports that as the disaster unfolded, Houston Fire lost contact with private medic group ParaDocs. Here's a detailed look at the tragic events:
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the investigation "will take weeks, if not longer," USA TODAY reported.
About 55,000 people attended the festival, held at an outdoor stage at NRG Park in Houston. Scott, a Houston native, organized and headlined the event.
Performers used two stages in the event. Scott was on the Chills Stage, the more elaborate of the two. He paused his performance at least three times to note trouble in the crowd and ask people to help, but those close to him say he was not aware of the deaths until after the concert was over.
This is what we know so far. Times are approximate.
Nov. 5, 3:30 a.m., Central time
Fans line up early outside the Astroworld grounds, ABC News reported. One worker estimated that 1,000 people were already there by early Friday.
The gates open, according to Houston Fire officials and documents obtained by USA TODAY, with some people jumping barricades as the crowd enters the grounds. One video shows people trampling a fence.
As the festival begins, hundreds of attendees storm past a checkpoint, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY. Some are trampled. On stage, a line-up of artists begin performing.
First reports of concert-goers seeking medical attention.
The performances continue, as KHOU-11 reports:
- 4:45 p.m. – Rapper Don Toliver.
- 5:35 p.m. – Rapper Roddy Ricch.
- 6:45 p.m. – Rapper Lil Baby.
- 7:30 p.m. – R&B singer SZA.
Houston fire department log: “Houston police reports that crowd is pushing down fence around Stage 2 (the Thrills stage). SRG (Special Response Group, police crowd-control personnel) units shifting around Stage 2.”
Houston fire department log: "Houston police reports of dangerous crowd conditions at Stage 2. 2686 Murworth report of individuals with guns, 15-20 people witnessed.”
Medical staff says they’re unable to document patients because so many are asking for help, the New York Times reported.
A outdoor timer begins counting down the minutes before Scott’s appearance.
Scott takes the stage.
The crowd starts moving toward the stage. Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena later says “the crowd began to compress toward the front of the stage,” causing panic and some injuries.
Police begin receiving reports of people being injured. USA TODAY reports calls pouring in:
9:30 p.m.: "Multiple people trampled, passed out at front of stage."
9:32 p.m.: "Unconscious female in middle of crowd."
9:33 p.m.: "Report of multiple persons down in the crowd."
9:35 p.m.: "At least five 9-1-1 calls related to unconscious persons in crowd."
Houston Fire Department declares an “EMS Task Force,” mobilizing ambulances and paramedics to the scene. The fire department later says it transported 17 patients to the hospital. Eleven were in cardiac arrest, the fire chief says Friday evening.
The fire department sends 16 units to the site, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The fire department upgrades to a “Mass Casualty Incident, Level 1,” USA TODAY reports.
Canadian rapper Drake joins Scott onstage.
The fire department upgrades again to “Mass Casualty Incident, Level 2,” USA TODAY reports. More paramedics, EMTs and fire fighters are sent.
Drake leaves the stage.
Scott ends his last song and leaves the stage; concert is over.
All wounded persons have been transported to hospitals, according to the fire department, USA TODAY reports.
Sat., Nov. 6
Live Nation Entertainment, the festival promoter, cancels the second day of the event. Scott releases a statement saying he’s devastated.
Mon., Nov. 8
At least 17 lawsuits are filed against Scott, Live Nation and others over the concert tragedy. FBI Director Christopher Wray says the bureau will provide "some forms of technical assistance" to the investigation.
Wed., Nov. 10
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces a task force on concert safety in response to the tragedy.
Thu., Nov. 11
Bharti Shahani, 22, a student at Texas A&M University, dies Nov. 10 in a hospital, her family announces.
Sun., Nov. 14
Ezra Blount, 9, of Dallas, dies Nov. 14 in a hospital after being placed in a medically induced coma, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces.
What can happen in a crowd surge?
People caught in crowd surges are usually suffocated, not trampled. They are squeezed against one another by surrounding people, or pushed against barriers, and are unable to breathe. Deaths are typically caused by compression asphyxia, in which external pressure on the body prevents breathing.
Crowd surges usually start with something that gets a crowd moving as a unit in the same direction, either from something or toward something.
In the Astroworld event, people started moving toward the stage when Travis Scott appeared.
"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.
Reese Bludau, who attended the concert, said it "was pure chaos." He said his height allowed him to breathe fresh air, said but shorter people would have been crushed and unable to breathe easily, USA TODAY reported.
If a crowd is dense enough, says John Fruin in his research paper, “The Causes and Prevention of Crowd Disasters,” personal control is lost and individuals become part of the mass.
The crushing force, “due to pushing and the domino effect of people leaning against each other” is more than you might expect, Fruin says. Authorities have found steel rails bent by crowds in several fatal incidents.
There’s usually no communication within a crowd when this happens, Fruin says. “People in the rear of the crowd press forward while those in front experience severe distress.”
Deaths in previous crowd surges
- 2015: 2,400 or more at a hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
- 2010: 21 at techno music festival in Duisburg, Germany.
- 1991: 9 on gymnasium stairs at City University of New York.
- 1989: 96 at Hillsborough soccer stadium in England.
- 1981: 21 at Karaiskakis Stadium in Athens, Greece.
- 1979: 11 people at a The Who concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- 1971: 66 at Ibrox Park Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland.
CONTRIBUTING: Rick Jervis, Jim Sergent, Javier Zarracina, and Shawn Sullivan
SOURCE USA TODAY Network reporting and research; Associated Press