Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Rapper Travis Scott stopped performing when he saw fans in distress

Rapper Travis Scott says he is devastated by the deaths and injuries at his Astroworld festival and has pledged "total support" to the police.

At least eight people died and scores of people were hurt after a crowd surge on the opening night of the music event in Houston, Texas.

"My prayers go out to the families all those impacted by what happened", the rapper said in a statement on Twitter.

"I'm absolutely devastated by what took place last night," he said.

Emergency workers described how panic broke out after the crowd began to press towards the front of the stage during the rapper's headline set on Friday evening.

As the crush began causing injuries to people, the panic grew and the casualties quickly overwhelmed the on site first aiders, officials said.

— TRAVIS SCOTT (@trvisXX) November 6, 2021
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Eleven people were taken to hospital with cardiac arrests, with eight of them dying. Some 300 people were treated for injuries such as cuts and bruises on Friday.

In his first statement since the tragedy, the rapper thanked the police and emergency services and said he was "committed to working together with the Houston community to heal and support the families in need".

Some 50,000 people were attending the two-day outdoor event, which has now been cancelled.

Image source, ReutersImage caption, A man could be seen jumping on an ambulance at the concert

According to the Houston Chronicle, Mr Scott stopped multiple times during his performance when he spotted fans in distress near the front of the stage.

The rapper asked security to help them out of the crowd. Emergency vehicles, lights and alarms flashing, cut through the crowds several times, the paper says.

Amateur video from the concert appears to show fans jumping on an emergency vehicle in the crowd as the performance continues on stage.

"We were hanging on to each other to avoid getting separated," said a male concert-goer. "If you let go, you could easily drift apart."

A female concert-goer told the paper she had never been to a "music festival with so many angry people".

This video can not be played

To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Media caption, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said there was panic when people "began to compress towards the front of the stage."

A reunification centre has been set up at the Wyndham Houston Hotel for families who have not heard from loved ones at the festival.

Astroworld is an annual event held at NRG Park since 2018, though it was put on pause last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Live Nation, the event organiser, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, the Reuters news agency reports.

Travis Scott, 29, made his big breakthrough in 2013 and has since had eight nominations for Grammy Awards. He has a child with celebrity socialite Kylie Jenner.

Other acts scheduled at the festival over the weekend included rappers Chief Keef and 21 Savage, and Australian rock act Tame Impala.