Three young women have been killed at a festival in Madrid after a crowd surge in a reportedly over-packed venue on Wednesday night. The Thriller Music Park event took place at the 12,000 capacity Madrid Arena, though a licence for the show allowed 10,600 tickets to be sold CMU Daily reports. Promoters insist the venue was not over capacity, and say that the event had actually not quite sold out. Some audience members have disagreed with that claim on the social networks, with one estimating up to 20,000 people were in the building at the time, though there is evidence to suggest that the problem wasn’t venue-wide overcrowding, but a bottleneck around one exit from the main arena. Some gig-goers have also claimed not enough exits were open during the event, with some claiming only one was available for much of the night. The event was headlined by DJ Steve Aoki.
Promoters say that they believe the fatal surge was caused when a flare went off within the audience area, though some bystanders have subsequently claimed the flare occurred sometime after the crush began. Emergency staff were called to the scene at about 4am and found five people in distress. According to Spin, two were declared dead at the scene after paramedics attempted resuscitation for about thirty minutes, while a third died after being taken to a local hospital. The other two victims remain in a critical condition according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Local police are now investigating the tragedy and its causes. Steve Aoki issued a statement saying: “After my performance last night at Thriller Music Park at the Madrid Arena in Spain, I was devastated to hear that three people had died during a crowd rush at one of the exits. The safety of my fans has always been my top priority and had I known that there was any distress putting people in jeopardy within the venue I would have ended my show immediately. My show in Bilbao Spain tonight will be cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives and those who are injured. I would like to express my deepest condolences and heart felt prayers to the families and loved ones during this difficult time”.
Many will remember the German Love Parade tragedy in 2010 when a crowd surge resulted in the deaths of 21 people, and the deaths of 100 people at the Great White show in the USA, and this tragedy will no doubt prompt further debate over what promoters, and the local authorities that regulate events, can do to prevent fatalities in the future.