“The crowd, for some reason, started pushing and rushing towards the front of the stage, which squeezed the people up front – they couldn’t escape this situation,” he said. CNN Houston Fire Chief Sam Peña on Saturday morning.
This sparked panic, and the situation escalated and overwhelmed the security personnel there, he said.
“People started to fall, pass out, and it created further panic,” Peña said at a press conference.
More than 300 people have been treated at a field hospital set up near the festival, Peña said.
Twenty-three people were taken to hospitals and eight of them died, Peña said. One patient is 10 years old and at the last check-up was in critical condition, Peña told CNN on Saturday morning.
Some of the patients were in cardiac arrest as they were taken to hospital, Peña said. More details on the injuries were not immediately available. The causes of death will be determined by a medical examiner, he said.
Crowd members attempt CPR on injured
People who attended Friday’s concert shared on social media the chaos that ensued after the deadly surge of the night. The medical staff were so overwhelmed with the injuries that some members of the public attempted to administer CPR.
Houston Police and event security personnel shut down the concert “as soon as the situation became such that it was beyond resources there,” but at that point, “the damage was done.” Peña said.
Peña said the cause of the flare was not immediately clear.
Investigators will review video of the scene and see how the venue was laid out and whether there were enough exit points, Peña said.
The investigation will explore “what caused, one, the problem with the influx of crowds, and two, what prevented people from being able to escape this situation,” said Peña.
Saturday’s portion of the scheduled two-day event has been canceled, organizers said.
“As authorities mentioned earlier at their press conference, they are reviewing the series of cardiac arrests that have taken place. If you have any relevant information on this, please contact @houstonpolice,” the tweet read.
Astroworld organizers did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment early Saturday morning.
People rushed through the gate hours earlier – and 3 were trampled on in an event two years ago
Earlier today, a video from CNN affiliate KPRC showed many people rushing into a VIP entrance at the event – knocking over metal detectors and sometimes other people, and ignoring staff of security.
The video showed people helping a few others. Peña said he also didn’t know what caused the rush.
“We know people jumped over the fence,” and at least one person was injured in that afternoon scramble, Peña said.
CNN asked Peña if that instance led to any special precautions during this year’s event. “Obviously if they did, they weren’t enough,” Peña replied.
The festival was to feature artists such as SZA, Bad Bunny and 21 Savage.
The mayor of Houston offered his condolences to the relatives of those killed.