For roughly 12 hours, Diana Amira sat and waited to ensure she’d have the best spot to watch when Travis Scott took the stage at the sold-out Astroworld music festival Friday night in Houston.
But about an hour and a half before the show started, as everyone stood up in anticipation of the performance, Amira, 19, realized the crowd was so tightly packed that she could hardly breathe.
Amira estimates that 30 seconds after Scott began his performance, she passed out. She said that without people around her helping her to stay upright, she would have been among those who died.
“Once Travis Scott came on, I told myself this is the moment I’ve been preparing for, I just need to breathe,” Amira said. “But … my rib cage was so squished that I couldn’t expand my lungs to catch a breath.”
Two days after eight people died and dozens more were injured at the concert, those who heard the screams of those being crushed by the crowd, who witnessed bodies being trampled, and those who thought they, too, might die in the surge of human bodies are reeling from their experience. NBC News spoke with five people who attended the Astroworld show, all of whom said they feared for their safety as the crowd crushed together.
“These last two days my heart has been beating fast as I continue to process how bad this whole festival actually was and how lucky I was,” said Cristian Bustos, 19, who said he and his friend moved to the back of the crowd early on, realizing how intense the situation was getting.
Around 50,000 people had packed the festival at NRG Park, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said.
“That caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries. People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic,” he said Saturday, adding that causes of death weren’t yet known for the eight victims but that they would be determined.
Two of the eight who died were teenagers. Twenty-five people were taken to nearby hospitals. Five were under 18, including a 10-year-old in critical condition.
More than 300 people were also treated throughout the event Friday at an on-site field hospital, officials said.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who didn’t identify them by name, said Saturday that one of the victims was 14, one was 16, two were 21, two were 23 and one was 27 and that one person’s age hadn’t been determined. By Sunday, local news outlets had begun identifying those who died; officials had yet to confirm those identities.
Scott said in a video posted to his Instagram story: “I’m honestly just devastated. I could never imagine anything like this just happening.”
Scott released a written statement on social media sending his condolences to the families of those who died.
“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.”
Many attendees have shared their experiences on social media, where concertgoers commiserate over the ordeal. On TikTok, videos of the chaos have racked up tens of millions of views. The hashtag “#Astroworld” had more than 1 billion views by Sunday afternoon.
A video of the concert posted to TikTok by Amira, who wrote in the caption that she had accepted that she would die, had more than 5.5 million views.
Tré Pixley, who posted a video of the chaos that has been viewed more than 5.2 million times, said he was crushed as if he were in a vise.
Around him, people were screaming — some passing out from the pressure of the crowd.
Then, he fell to the ground.
“Before I knew it, I had fallen with a group of other people,” said Pixley, 22. “We were stuck screaming for help. … In that moment, I was scared for my life.”
Pixley said he was on the ground for two songs before he was able to stand back up with the help of strangers, who he said risked their lives to get him up. Eventually, he was able to escape the crowd and make his way to safety. But the ordeal still replays in his mind.
Skyler Madison, 29, who watched the show from the center of the crowd, said that she tried to leave during Scott’s performance but that the mass of people continued to push her back and forth until she realized she would have to wait out the duration of the show.
“It was literally a vortex of a crowd,” she said.
At some point, Madison said, people were packed so tightly that her feet were off the ground. She didn’t learn about the deaths until after she left the event and a flurry of texts began flooding her phone. She said that as she was trapped within the crowd, unable to escape or seek help, she worried that she could be killed.
“Not being able to breathe, and you’re getting crushed to death, you do start thinking these things, like, ‘Am I going to make it?’” she said.
Reports of lawsuits swirled late Sunday. Meanwhile, mourners began gathering outside NRG Park to place flowers and candles at a makeshift memorial.
Some who had been in the audience said Sunday that they were disappointed with Scott’s response to what was happening and that they wished he had seen the chaos and stopped the show.
“Travis Scott, himself, on stage could have done more to make sure his fans were OK,” Pixley said, adding that he wished Scott had had more security staff members at the front of the stage or had paused the show for 10 to 15 minutes to address the surge.
Pixley and Amira said they believe they and others made it out alive only because strangers risked their lives to get them to safety.
Amira recalled seeing a woman face down on the ground 30 minutes before Scott took the stage. The people around the woman, who wasn’t moving, were eventually able to lift her and crowd-surf her out of the crush.
“We’re all screaming, and I’m sobbing because that could be me. … We had to pick her up and take her out. And the whole time I’m sobbing because I’m starting to accept the fact I might die,” Amira said.
She didn’t realize it then, but soon, Amira would be exiting the crowd in the same way as the woman she helped to lift out. When Amira passed out, she said, a man behind her began to climb over her to see the show better. When she came to, she said, she was praying that she would survive the ordeal.
“I have never even heard myself scream like that ever — tears running down my face, begging God to let me live and help me breathe,” she said.
That’s when two strangers, who she said had been helping her stay upright and making sure she was breathing, stepped in.
“I guess they picked me up, because the next thing I remember was crowd-surfing out of the crowd,” she said. “I have been thanking God, because if it was not for them, I would be dead right now. I would not have made it out.”