At least three concertgoers were killed and many more injured when a stage at the open-air Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium collapsed Thursday during a set by Chicago band Smith Westerns.
A heavy storm hit just as the band began playing. The band was able to get off stage before the collapse and was unhurt, according to frontman Cullen Omori's Twitter feed.
Later in the day, he said in a statement that the band had finished its first song when the stage began shaking. They assumed it was "a storm passing through
We were about to play the next one when out tour manager yelled at me to run off the stage. Right then (a metal bar that holds up the tent) collapsed 1 foot in front of" guitarist Max Kakacek.
"Amid the chaos it was hard to tell exactly what had happened," the statement continued, "but after the rescue teams started coming in it became clear that there were severe injuries and we are now being told there are reports of multiple deaths. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in today's tragedy."
More festival-goers were injured, when a brief burst of high winds and heavy rain flattened tents, uprooted trees, pulled the roof off a stage and brought down giant screens, officials said.
Hugo Simons, Hasselt's head of emergency medical planning, told VRT radio that 11 had been severely injured and 60 had sustained light injuries as a result of the storm.Video from the site showed stage equipment dangling in high winds as rain-soaked concertgoers at the music festival ran for cover. Trees and branches all around the area were downed, evidence of the sudden ferocity of the winds.
Reported attendance for the three-day sold-out event, which started Thursday in Hasselt, about 50 miles east of Brussels, was estimated at 60,000. It was the second major stage collapse at a pop concert in the past week; five people (including Christina Santiago) were killed last Saturday when a stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed just before a concert from the
country band Sugarland.
The three-day Pukkelpop festival was set to have featured rapper Eminem and bands Foo Fighters and The Offspring.The festival was suspended and organizers were meeting to decide whether to proceed Friday and Saturday as planned.