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Rapper Travis Scott 'devastated' by deaths of eight at Astroworld festival; Houston officials investigating

In a video posted to Instagram, Scott says he never could have "imagined the severity of the situation" at his sold-out music festival.
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Rapper Travis Scott said in a video Saturday night that he could not have imagined the "severity of the situation" at Friday's Astroworld festival in Houston, where eight people died after a crowd surge.

"I'm honestly just devastated. I could never imagine anything like this just happening," Scott said in an Instagram story posted on his account.

The video appeared to be the first time Scott has spoken on camera publicly about the concert. He released a written statement on social media earlier Saturday.

"I want to send out prayers to the ones that was lost last night," he said in the video. "We're actually working right now to identify their families so we can help assist them through this tough time."

The victims' identities and cause of death have not yet been released, but Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Saturday one was 14, another was 16, two were 21, two were 23, one was 27 and one person's age has not been determined.

The Harris County Medical Institute of Forensic Sciences on Saturday requested the public's help identifying one of the victims, a man in his early 20s with short, dark wavy hair, a slight mustache and a goatee. The man, who was about 6-foot-2 and weighed 498 pounds, was wearing size 11 white Nike sneakers.

More than 300 people were treated throughout the event Friday at an on-site field hospital, officials said. Of the 25 people who were taken to hospitals, 13 remained hospitalized Saturday. A 10-year-old among the injured is in critical condition.

"My fans really mean the world to me and I always just really want to leave them with a positive experience," Scott said in the video. "Anytime I can make out ... anything that's going on, I'd stop the show and ... help them get the help they need."

He added that he could "never imagine the severity of the situation."

The chaos unfolded Friday shortly after 9 p.m. local time when the crowd of 50,000 "began to compress toward the front of the stage," Houston fire Chief Samuel Peña said at a news conference early Saturday.

Houston police Chief Troy Finner said Saturday afternoon that a few people started "going down" at 9:30 p.m. He said officials informed producers of what was happening, and the show ended at about 10:10 p.m.

Finner defended the amount of time that passed before the concert ended. He said there was a discussion between promoters, the fire and police departments and NRG Park officials.

"You cannot just close when you've got over 50,000 individuals," he said, citing the risk of riots.

The department is conducting a criminal investigation into what happened, with the involvement of the homicide and narcotics divisions, Finner said.

ICU nurse Madeline Eskins, from Spring, Texas, was among the attendees who suddenly felt a crush of bodies and became unable to breathe.

She said she momentarily lost consciousness and her boyfriend helped get her out of the crowd. When she regained consciousness, Eskins saw people "bleeding from their nose and mouth," she said in an Instagram post.

Eskins told NBC News that there were not enough medics or medical supplies, including defibrillator machines and IV kits, to help the injured.

"There was only one stretcher for three people out where I was at," she said. "There was no IV kit. There was nothing to give them."

Peña, the fire chief, said at the news conference that a private, third-party contractor provided doctors, medical EMT's and volunteers, and said he could not speak to the equipment they had.

"The level of injuries, the number of people in that venue quickly overwhelmed the third-party vendors that were providing the security and the medical component," he said. "We quickly were able to respond."

The fire department had staged ambulances around the venue in case something happened, and requested additional units when the situation escalated, Peña said.

He said the crowd surge is under investigation, and that it was crowd control at the point of the stage that caused the issue.

More than 500 Houston Police Department officers provided security at the event and an additional 755 private security officers were provided by the entertainment company Live Nation.

A spokesperson for NRG Park, where the concert was held, said they were "deeply saddened by the heartbreaking loss of life and pain experienced by all those impacted by this tragedy."

Scott, 29, launched the Astroworld Festival in 2018 in his hometown of Houston as an annual event. The festival made its return Friday after a hiatus in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.