Complex crowd dynamics led to an increase in deaths at Travis Scott's Astroworld festival. It may have been even more horrific than initially thought.
Business Insider reported that physics could have explained the Houston tragedy. This makes it seem more like a storm of potentially dangerous circumstances. Mass deaths at rowdy concerts are still very rare.
First, let's get to the facts. Nine people died from injuries suffered during Scott's performance in November 5. The headliner and organizer of the festival, the "Sicko Mode", rapper denies knowing about the fatal crowd surge until after Scott's performance. However, the Houston police chief says that he tried to warn Scott before the show began about "public safety concerns."
There's still much speculation and blame-slinging around what actually happened at Astroworld, despite Travis Scott's and Kylie Jenner's apologies.
Scott and his crowd control staff are largely to blame. It is also widely believed that panic in the crowd caused the deaths and injuries. This included 11 heart attacks among young, presumably healthy concertgoers.
Business Insider reported that science, and in particular the physics theory behind studying gases and liquids, may have some answers to the huge questions surrounding the Astroworld disaster.
The report stated that people can make and take decisions when they are not tightly packed together in a crowd of less than four people per square meter. But when the crowd density exceeds four people per square meter and even six, then something is strange: People are pressed together so tight that they become one unit and move with waves of pressure.
The article stated that "human bodies behave as fluids." Astroworld's Friday event seems to have been similar.
A 2017 Smithsonian magazine article dated days before Donald Trump's inauguration was cited by BI's Astroworld Report. It alluded at fluid dynamics and quoted concertgoers who described "waves of bodies pushing and pulling in chaos crowd surge."
In 2017, Dirk Helbing, a computation social scientist, explained to Smithsonian that when crowds become dense, people can fall. This can lead to a "black hole" effect where people can be sucked in, along with clothing and shoes. The ripple effect is that the more people fall into these "blackholes," the more others around them will fall.
Reese Bludau, a 20-year old concertgoer, said that it felt like a current in an ocean. "I was touched by four to six people at all times. It felt like I had 15 to 20 pounds of weight on my chest, back and stomach.
Although the legal responsibility for the events at Astroworld will be debated in courtrooms for many months or even years, one thing is certain: it was not the crowd's fault.
Keith Still, a British crowd scientist, stated that he has not witnessed any stampede-related mass deaths. This was after a similar crowd surge in 2015 which saw more than 2,200 pilgrims die in Saudi Arabia. People don't die from panic. People panic because they're dying.
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