Belgium’s Pukkelpop Music Festival, which attracts some 180,000 people, has been cancelled after at least five people died when two stages collapsed during a heavy storm, yesterday.
Officials estimate that up 100 people were seriously injured. The tragedy follows several similar ones, most recently, in Indianapolis IN, less than a week ago. The shocking frequency of stages collapsing at outdoor, temporary venues is putting the future of these events in doubt.
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The Pukkelpop Festival has been a fixture in Belgium for many years. In the late afternoon hours of August 18, bad weather blew in to what had been expected to be a day of sunshine in the town of Hasselt. Most of the men were wearing shorts and girls were sporting bikini tops. The storm came hard and fast.
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U.S band, The Smith Westerns were on stage when the main stage collapsed, and said that they narrowly escaped serious injury themselves. This video shows the terrifying seen as the rigging and par cans become at the mercy of the high winds.
Organizers of Pukkelpop, which started in 1985, said they were ‘deeply moved’ by what had happened and could not carry on. “Pukkelpop is in deep mourning,” organizers said in a statement. ‘We truly sympathize with the families and friends of the victims. Words are not enough. We have struggled with the decision to continue the festival. Therefore we have decided to cancel Pukkelpop 2011.”
Thursday’s catastropy saw the vast Chateau stage taken down, crushed by uprooted trees. A second stage was also severely damaged. As far as bands and crew, latest reports are that management and crew have checked in for Deftones, Foo Fighter and 30 Seconds to Mars and report all are OK. Unconfirmed report has one video engineer hit by flying debris and taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Originally posted 2011-08-18 19:42:33.