December 9, 2023

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Crowd Crush at O2 Academy Brixton Leaves 4 Critically Injured

A crowd crush at the doors of London’s O2 Academy Brixton last night led eight people to be hospitalized, four of whom were in critical condition, The Guardian and The New York Times report. Larger than expected crowds had descended upon the 5,000-capacity venue, some without tickets, according to reports. Videos on social media and BBC News show a teeming crowd gathered outside with no flow in or out of the venue, as hundreds tried to gain entry to the final concert of Nigerian Afrobeats star Asake’s three-night residency. At 9:35 p.m., police arrived in response to reports of forced entry to the venue, and found several people with apparent crushing injuries.

A woman taken to hospital with suspected internal bleeding told BBC News, “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.”

Ade Adelekan, a leading commander in London’s Metropolitan police force, responded to criticism of the police response, citing videos shared on social media. “Where force has been used by police officers, those officers know they have to be accountable for their actions,” Adelekan said, according to The Guardian. “The Met’s directorate of professional standards will view all material, including body-worn video footage from the officers at the scene.”

Asake was forced to cut the gig short after 10 minutes. In a statement on his Instagram story, he wrote, “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.”

Pitchfork has emailed O2 Academy Brixton’s press office for comment.

UPDATE: Rebecca Ikumelo, one of eight people hospitalized in the crowd crush, has died, Rolling Stone and The Independent report. Ikumelo was taken to the hospital shortly after the incident, and died Saturday morning. Two other women are reportedly still in critical condition in the hospital.

Asake published a statement on social media Saturday (December 17) addressing the incident. “I am overwhelmed with grief and could never have imagined anything like this happening,” he said. “My team and I are still awaiting the full debrief back from the venue management and the police to determine what exactly led to all the disruption caused and ultimately to Rebecca’s passing.”

Sadiq Khan, the current Mayor of London, also took to social media to mourn Ikumelo’s death. “I am heartbroken by the tragic death of Rebecca Ikumelo—who has very sadly died following the awful events on Thursday night in Brixton,” he wrote. “Rebecca had her whole life ahead of her and on behalf of all Londoners, I would like to extend my condolences to her family and loved ones.”

This article was originally published on Friday, December 16, at 9:51 a.m. Eastern. It was last updated on Saturday, December 17, at 11:28 a.m. Eastern.

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