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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Matthew Weaver

Three people still in critical condition after suspected crush at Asake gig in Brixton

Three people were still in a critical condition on Friday night after an apparent crowd crush at a concert at the O2 Academy Brixton in London on Thursday.

The Metropolitan police launched an investigation into what they said was an “extremely distressing” incident at a performance by the Nigerian Afrobeats singer and songwriter Asake.

The artist, whose London concert dates sold out within minutes when tickets went on sale in September, said he was praying for those injured amid claims hundreds of people entered without tickets.

Police were called to the venue in south London at about 9.35pm on Thursday after reports that a large number of people were attempting to force entry. They found a number of people with “injuries believed to have been caused by crushing”.

Of the eight people taken to hospital, three were still in a critical condition on Friday evening. Two more people were treated for minor injuries at the scene.

Writing on Instagram, Asake said: “My heart is with those who were injured last night and caused any form of discomfort. I pray you get well soonest.

“I am also in the process of reaching out to individuals. I still do not have the full brief from the venue management themselves as to what led to the disruption at the entrance of the Brixton Academy, but we are thankful that all was peaceful at the end.

“For my people who enjoyed the beginning of my performance, I am sorry that it was cut short. Thank you for your unbelievable love London. I love you too much! I’m looking forward to seeing you again in a bit!”

Earlier this week, Asake had urged fans not to come to the 4,921-capacity venue without tickets for another concert on Sunday.

One woman, who was taken to hospital with suspected internal bleeding, told the BBC: “I couldn’t breathe and I completely passed out. I thought I was dead. I took my last breath and I could not get any more oxygen. I was so scared.”

Another of those who witnessed the apparent crush to enter the venue said people were fainting in the queue. “Asake had been locked off, people fainting in the queue, people fighting and banging on doors,” she wrote on Twitter.

Concern has been expressed about alleged heavy-handed tactics used by the police in response to the incident. The Met said its directorate of professional standards would review how the police acted on the ground.

The Met has referred itself to the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which it said was “standard national practice following all incidents where police have been in attendance and members of the public have been seriously injured”.

The force moved to calm any tensions and rumours. It said: “We are aware of footage on social media showing an officer pushing a woman from the steps. This matter has been assessed by the Directorate of Professional Standards and there is no evidence of misconduct.”

The Labour MP Florence Eshalomi, whose Vauxhall constituency includes Brixton, said the review should examine video footage to identify any possible wrongdoing by the police.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, she said: “This is a really deeply concerning incident. What is clear is that something has gone wrong with the ticketing and security procedures. It’s vital that we don’t speculate or jump to any conclusions or attribute any blame until we know the facts.”

Another video from outside the venue showed hundreds of people wanting to get in.

The concert was cancelled 10 minutes after Asake appeared on stage. Video on TikTok showed him going on stage to say: “They said outside is fucked up already. So we have to end the show. I don’t know why. It’s not me.”

Another man then came on to the stage to explain. “We have stopped the show because they breached the door. You have got 3,000 people [who] have broken the door outside and because of security, police have asked us to close the show. We apologise to you. This is nothing to do with us,” he said.

The disappointed crowd was told to leave the building immediately.

While no arrests have taken place, detectives from specialist crime have launched an urgent investigation and cordons remain in place at the O2 Academy.

Screengrab from video of the crowd outside Brixton O2 Academy on Thursday evening.
A screengrab from video shows the crowd outside Brixton O2 Academy on Thursday evening. Photograph: @rofiatcc/PA Media

A woman who attended described the concert as a “disaster” as she shared video of what appeared to be scuffles at the crowded entrance to the venue. Cynie La Gazelle said she was shaken by what she saw. “I should have just listened to my gut instincts and stayed at home,” she tweeted.

Another Twitter user, Niaa, wrote: “Left my house to enjoy Asake, ended up having a panic attack in queue because of the stampede and people not acting accordingly. I was in literal tears, scared for my life. Worst experience of my life.”

The Met police gold commander, Ade Adelekan, described the incident as “extremely distressing” and urged any witnesses who were yet to speak with police to get in contact.

Adelekan added: “I am aware of video being shared on social media. I would ask people to be sensible about what they share, and not to post material that will be upsetting to those affected by this incident.

“Where force has been used by police officers, those officers know they have to be accountable for their actions. The Met’s directorate of professional standards will view all material, including body-worn video footage from the officers at the scene.

“In relation to a clip being widely shared, I can confirm that no police dogs were deployed to the location.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, tweeted that he was “heartbroken”.

Any witnesses who are yet to speak with police are asked to call 101. Anyone with mobile phone footage that may assist police is asked to contact MetCC on Twitter.

The O2 Academy has been approached for comment.

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