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Two dead and at least 20 injured as car ploughs through barriers as Kanye West and Jay-Z perform at festival

By Adam Withnall

At least two people have died and more than 20 injured after a car ploughed through crowds at the South By Southwest music and interactive festival in Austin, Texas.

Police said they were pursuing the vehicle when it crashed through barricades set up for the festival. Officers said that two victims were confirmed dead, while 10 have been taken to hospital, at least five with severe injuries. Around 13 others were also hurt.

The incident occurred at around 12.30am local time in a busy downtown area, when there were crowds of pedestrians on the street.

CNN quoted eyewitnesses saying that a car had sped through the large crowd, throwing some victims into the air and knocking others down. The driver of the car has been arrested, police said.

According to the Austin Police Department, the crash occurred on the corner of East 10th street and Red River. Images from the scene showed the incident happened outside the Mohawk club where, CBC News reported, Californian rapper Tyler the Creator was performing.

At a later press conference held in front of the crash scene, Austin police chief Art Acevedo told reporters police had tried to stop a man in a grey sedan at a petrol station on suspicion of drink-driving.

The man reportedly fled, turning the wrong way down the one-way 9th street and then onto Red River.

There he ploughed through a barricade and struck multiple pedestrians, a taxi and a moped before crashing into a van, police said.

Acevedo said the two people who died, a man and a woman, had been on the moped at the time. He said the driver of the car then tried to flee on foot, but was pursued, brought down with a taser and arrested by police. 

The Mohawk club was closed as a result of the incident, and later announced on Twitter that all acts were cancelled for the rest of the night.

As events were unfolding downtown, two of music's biggest stars Kanye West and Jay Z played a two-hour show at the Austin Music Hall.

The hugely-popular South By Southwest festival, known as SXSW, brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Austin, Texas every year.

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