US rap concert deadly stampede investigation widens to include criminal probe

An ambulance is seen in the crowd during the Astroworld music festiwal in Houston, Texas, US, on Nov 5, 2021.
PHOTO: Twitter/@onacasella vai Reuters

At least two investigations, one of them criminal, are underway into the deadly stampede during rap star Travis Scott's Astroworld music festival that killed at least eight people and injured dozens in Houston.

Officials in Houston, Texas said autopsies on Friday's (Nov 5) victims were being performed as soon as possible so their bodies can be returned to family members.

The dead were young, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said: "Two were aged 14 and 16, two were 21, another two were 23, with a seventh aged 27." An eighth victim has yet to be identified, he added.

A 10-year-old was in critical condition, officials said. At least 11 people suffered cardiac arrests.

Harris County Judge Lina Hildago called on Saturday for an "objective, independent" investigation into the tragedy, as she spoke about the rap festival being attended by 50,000 fans when the stampede took place.

Houston city police chief Troy Finner said his department had opened a criminal investigation by homicide and narcotics detectives, following reports that somebody in the audience had been injecting people with drugs.

The city's fire chief, Samuel Pena, said several concert-goers had to be revived with the anti-drug overdose medicine Narcan, including a security officer who appeared to have been injected in the neck with a substance by a concert-goer.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena addresses the news media, the day after a deadly crush of fans during a performance by rapper Travis Scott at the Astroworld Festival, in Houston, Texas, US on Nov 6, 2021. PHOTO: Reuters 

In a 90-second Twitter video on Saturday, Travis Scott said that, while on stage, "I could just not imagine the severity of the situation." He described himself as "absolutely devastated" by the incident.

The rest of the two-day festival was cancelled after the disaster unfolded at about 9.30pm during the headline performance by Scott, a Grammy-nominated singer and producer, at the climax of the opening day.

The deaths happened near the stage when the crowd surged towards it.

READ ALSO: 'Felt like a riot': Fan stampede at Travis Scott's Astroworld concert leaves 8 dead and more injured