US: Death toll from Astroworld music festival stampede rises to 9

Bharti Shahani, 22-year-old Texas college student, died of injuries sustained during show in Houston last week.

A makeshift memorial has been set up for the concertgoers who died in a stampede during a Travis Scott performance in Houston, Texas, on November 5 [Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters]

A Texas college student has succumbed to injuries sustained during last week’s Astroworld Festival stampede in Houston, a lawyer for the family announced on Thursday, bringing the death toll from the incident to nine.

Bharti Shahani, a 22-year-old Texas A&M University student, died late Wednesday from “horrific injuries” sustained during rapper Travis Scott’s music festival, the representative said.

Nine concertgoers between the ages of 14 and 27 were killed and many others were injured during the opening night of the festival on November 5. A nine-year-old boy remains in critical condition, police have said.

“We want to make sure that the people who decided to put profits over the safety of the lives of children are held responsible,” James Lassiter, the lawyer for Shahani’s family, said during a news conference.

Lassiter said Shahani was a “shining star” in the community. “She was a sister, a daughter, a high-achieving college student about to graduate from Texas A&M University with high, high grades,” he said.

Concertgoers have described the packed crowd of some 50,000 people growing dangerous even before Scott appeared on stage and seeing people collapse while he performed. The rapper’s lawyers have said he did not know about the deaths and injuries until after the show.

A representative for Scott on Thursday asked victims to contact the rapper directly for help via a dedicated email address.

“He is distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid to them as soon as possible, but wants to remain respectful of each family’s wishes on how they’d best like to be connected,” the representative said.

Police are continuing to interview witnesses and are building a timeline of events leading to the deaths, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said on Wednesday.

Mohit Bellani, Shahani’s cousin, who also was at the concert, blamed barricades set up at the festival for trapping attendees and preventing them from escaping the stampede.

“If they hadn’t packed us in with barriers on all three sides, maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” he said.

But Edwin F McPherson, a lawyer for Scott, has rejected blame on the rapper for not halting the event.

“Investigations should start proceeding over finger-pointing so that together, we can identify exactly what transpired and how we can prevent anything like this from happening again,” McPherson said in a statement.

The FBI said earlier this week that it would assist Houston police in an ongoing criminal investigation, an announcement welcomed by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston.

“With so many moving parts involved in this tragedy, families who have lost loved ones deserve to have all of the facts regarding this catastrophe so that this can help them heal,” Lee said in a statement on Wednesday.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the show’s promoter, Live Nation Entertainment, as well as Scott over the incident.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies