“We had dozens of people injured,” said Houston Fire Department chief Sam Peña during a press conference early Saturday morning.
About 50,000 people were at the sold-out outdoor music festival at NRG Park – the stadium complex that houses the Astrodome and NRG Stadium – when the incident occurred just after 9 p.m. CT, officials said.
“The crowd started pushing and pushing forward on stage for some reason, which resulted in the people being pushed together in front – they were unable to escape that situation,” Peña told CNN on Saturday morning.
That triggered panic, the situation had worsened and the security staff there was overwhelmed, he said.
“People started falling out, passed out and there was additional panic,” Peña said at the press conference.
More than 300 people were treated in a field hospital near the festival, Peña said.
23 people were rushed to hospitals – 11 of them were in critical condition – and eight of them died, Peña said. One patient was 10 years old and the exam was last in critical condition, Peña told CNN on Saturday morning.
Crowds try CPR on the injured
The visitors to the concert shared the resulting chaos on social media. The medical staff were so overwhelmed by the injuries that some bystanders attempted CPR.
The live stream of the event showed Scott pausing his performance to watch in confusion as an ambulance drove into the venue with lights flashing.
Houston police and the event’s security staff stopped the concert “as soon as the situation became too much for resources there,” but by then “the damage was done,” said Peña.
Peña said the cause of the surge was not immediately clear.
Investigators will review the video of the scene and see how the venue was laid out and whether it had enough exit points, Peña said.
The investigation will investigate “what first caused the mass onslaught problem and secondly what prevented people from escaping this situation,” said Peña.
The causes of death are still to be determined by the coroner, he said.
The Saturday part of the planned two-day event will be canceled, the organizers announced.
“As the authorities mentioned in their press conference, they are investigating the series of cardiac arrests that have occurred. If you have any relevant information on this, please contact @houstonpolice, ”the tweet reads.
Astroworld organizers did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment early Saturday morning.
People stormed through the gate hours earlier – and 3 were trampled at the event two years ago
Earlier in the day, a video from CNN subsidiary KPRC showed scores of people rushing through a VIP entrance, metal detectors and sometimes knocking over people and ignoring security guards.
The video showed some people helping some others. Peña said he didn’t know what caused the rush either.
“We know people jumped over the fence,” said Peña.
The festival was supposed to showcase artists like SZA, Bad Bunny and 21 Savage.
The Mayor of Houston expressed his condolences to the families of those killed.