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8 people dead and several injured at Travis Scott's Astroworld music festival

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LINA HIDALGO: Our hearts are broken. I mean, people go to these events looking for a good time, a chance to unwind, to make memories. It's not the kind of event you go to where you expect to find out about fatalities.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Authorities in Houston say what appears to be a stampede occurred last night when the crowd at NRG Park suddenly rushed forward during Travis Scott's appearance at his Astroworld Festival. Houston Public Media's Paul DeBenedetto joins us now. Paul, thanks so much for being with us.

PAUL DEBENEDETTO, BYLINE: Thank you.

SIMON: What do we know so far?

DEBENEDETTO: Well, local officials say the crowd started to surge a little after 9 p.m. during Travis Scott's set, and the rush towards the stage caused a panic. People started to pass out and collapse - that caused more of a panic. And now at least eight people are dead, and more than a dozen are hospitalized, including 11 with cardiac arrest.

SIMON: Were there guards, paramedics, emergency personnel on hand?

DEBENEDETTO: There were, actually. There were hundreds of police and security on hand. There was a local field hospital on the grounds that treated, throughout the day, about 300 people. But by the time this happened, Houston police and fire officials say that the rush just kind of came very suddenly, and they were quickly overwhelmed.

SIMON: Any indication, Paul, about what caused that rush?

DEBENEDETTO: There isn't, and police and fire officials are stressing that they don't have all of the information yet. There have been rumors that have been swirling on social media. None of that has been verified. There is still technically no official cause of death for the people who died. And the medical examiner will make a final determination. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo - she's the top county official here - she said that among those injured were people as young as 10.

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HIDALGO: Our focus right now is to support the families of any victims, to make sure that we support them in identifying any victims, to make sure that we are conducting an investigation, not jumping into any conclusions.

DEBENEDETTO: There is a reunification center at a nearby hotel. It's called the Wyndham Hotel. And police and fire officials are asking anyone who hasn't been in contact with a loved one at the festival to head there.

SIMON: How many people attended this festival?

DEBENEDETTO: The estimates are about 50,000 people today. It was a two-day festival. This morning, you could see a sort of surge of people. There was a video that was circulating of a surge of people that were breaking down the initial barriers to get in. It's a really popular event every year. Travis Scott took out a full wraparound ad on the cover of the Houston Chronicle yesterday. Other artists like Bad Bunny and Earth, Wind and Fire were also scheduled to perform. But obviously, the rest of last night was canceled, and tonight's performances are also canceled.

SIMON: Houston Public Media's Paul DeBenedetto, thanks so much for being with us.

DEBENEDETTO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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