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Astroworld: Victims Named As Police Probe US Festival Crush

Image source, Iris Rodriguez

Family and friends have been paying tribute to those who died following a crowd surge at rapper Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas.

At least eight people were killed and hundreds hurt at the music event, which is now under investigation by police.

Scott has said he is working to help the families of “the ones that was lost” after the crowd pressed forward while he was on stage on Friday night.

Most of the victims were young people, with the youngest said to be just 14.

The family of one victim, 16-year-old Brianna Rodriguez, spoke of their “profound sadness” and said the passionate dancer was “dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates”.

Earlier, Houston police said their investigation into the crush would include looking into reports that somebody in the audience had been injecting people with drugs.

The surge began around 21:15 on Friday (02:15 GMT Saturday) when panic broke out as the crowd pressed towards the front of the stage during the rapper’s headline set.

As the crush began causing injuries to people, panic grew and the casualties quickly overwhelmed the on-site first aiders, officials said. Some 300 people were treated for injuries such as cuts and bruises.

On Sunday, GoFund Me pages and emotional social media tributes to those who died were widely shared online.

Danish Baig was 27. His brother Basil Mirza Baig posted on Facebook that he had been killed while trying to save another relative in the crush. “His smile would light up a room”, he wrote.

Rudy Peña, from Laredo, Texas, also died in the tragedy. His age has not yet been confirmed. His sister told the Laredo Morning Times that he was “the sweetest person, friendly, outgoing, he had many friends because he was always there for everyone… he was a big fan of Travis, he loved his music.”

Image source, Franco Patino/LinkedIn

Franco Patino, 21, was an engineering student at the University of Dayton. His university confirmed his death to local TV station WHIO. He was also a member of the Alpha Psi Lambda fraternity and completing a work placement in Mason, Ohio.

Brianna Rodriguez, 16, was a junior at Heights High School in Houston. “Dancing was her passion and now she’s dancing her way to heaven’s pearly gates”, her family wrote on Facebook.

On Saturday, Houston police Chief Troy Finner said the investigation into the tragedy will include the homicide and narcotics divisions. Teams will review video from the scene to explore the causes of the surge and what had prevented people from being able to escape.

Several concert goers had to be revived with anti-drug overdose medicine, including a security officer who police said appeared to have an injection mark.

“We do have a report of a security officer… that he was reaching over to restrain or grab a citizen and he felt a prick in his neck,” Chief Finner said.

“When he was examined he went unconscious,” he added. “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.”

In his first statement since the event on Twitter, Travis Scott thanked the police and emergency services and said he was “committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need”.

Later he posted a video message on Instagram, in which he encouraged anyone with information about the incident to contact the authorities.

Scott, whose real name is Jacques Webster, made his big breakthrough in 2013 and has since had eight nominations for Grammy Awards.

He has a child – and another one on the way – with socialite Kylie Jenner, who was among the 50,000 people at the festival.

She posted on Instagram that they were “broken and devastated.”

“I want to make it clear we weren’t aware of any fatalities until the news came out after the show and in no world would have continued filming or performing”, she wrote.

In 2018, he pleaded guilty to a public disorder charge after he was accused of encouraging people to rush the stage at a concert in the US state of Arkansas.

According to a local newspaper, Travis Scott also paid nearly $7,000 (£5,186) to two people who said they were injured at the event.

Angelica Casas, BBC News, Houston

The night wasn’t supposed to end like it did. Today, the streets surrounding the Astroworld festival grounds are still mostly closed off, and the venue is almost empty except for staff and a heavy police presence.

Edward, a 25-year-old Houston native and a long-time Travis Scott fan, attended Friday’s performances, and both previous Astroworld festivals.

He was right in the middle of the crowd when, he says, things began to get ugly. As the surge grew worse in a matter of minutes, desperate concert-goers tried to escape, pushing and pulling.

“I personally had a girl grab and hold on to me for dear life,” he said. “I had to calm her down because she literally thought she was about to die.”

Edward says he made a protective circle with his arms around her so she could catch her breath. He was able to pull her out of the crowd and help her to safety. As he walked out, he saw unconscious people around him, some already receiving CPR.

Another attendee, Andy Pacheco, filmed the moment concert-goer Seanna Faith, in a desperate plea for help, climbed on to a platform where a cameraman was stationed to ask him to do something about the crowd surge. She wanted the cameraman to call police or medics. But her plea for help was in vain.

Ms Faith later wrote online that she had just escaped a “sinkhole” of people as the crowding had become more intense.

She managed to pull herself and a friend out and was trying to get help for the others.

People come to these festivals to escape reality and feel like they belong in a music community. On Friday night, that sense of belonging turned deadly.

Did you witness the incident? If it is safe to do so email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:

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Article: bbc.co.uk

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