Hasselt, Belgium: Four Dead, 71 Injured As Storm Hits Music Festival: UPDATED

18 Aug


HASSELT, Belgium (AP) — A storm swept through a popular open-air music festival in this town eastern Belgium on Thursday killing at least three people and injuring more than 70 others, an official said.
Ambulances and police cars raced to and from the site of the Pukkelpop festival, near the town of Hasselt, 50 miles east of Brussels, late Thursday, their sirens blaring.
Concertgoers described scenes of panic as the sky darkened, the winds whipped, rain poured, hailstones nearly half an inch (larger than 1 centimeter) across pelted the crowds, and concert structures buckled.

“It was frightening. It looked terrible. All the structures collapsed,” said Brinnie Gardner, 20, of Aukland, New Zealand, who is on a tour of Europe with a friend. “There was panic. It was crazy.”

Click photo to view more images. (AP/Yves Logghe)
Click photo to view more images. (AP/Yves Logghe)

Hugo Simons, Hasselt’s head of emergency medical planning, told VRT radio that three people had died, 11 had been severely injured and 60 had sustained light injuries as a result of the storm.

Organizers estimated that 60,000 people were at the three-day festival, which started Thursday, when the storm broke.

Many were streaming out of the grounds after the storm, which turned the festival site into a scene of mud and destruction within about 10 minutes.

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.

Ambulances ferried the seriously injured to nearby hospitals. Some of those lightly injured were being treated at a local sports complex.

More than 20 ambulances were dispatched to the festival ground. 

Dutch NOS television reporter Rick Hoogkamp, who was attending the concert Thursday, said several tents collapsed.
An AP reporter saw concession stands blown down and a large food tent spread across the ground.

One of those who watched a tent collapse was Laura Elegeert, 17, of Saint-Nicolas, Belgium.

“It was utter confusion, mass panic,” Elegeert said. “People were trying to get out of this tent that collapsed by using their pocket knives and cutting holes in the fabric.”

Two cranes were brought in to try to lift the large tent late Thursday, but the ground appeared too swamped for them to reach the area.

Chokri Mahassine, the organizer of the festival, said, “We have for now put the festival on hold until we understand the situation completely.”

The three-day festival’s lineup features internationally known acts, including Foo Fighters, Eminem and The Offspring.

This was the second deadly incident at an outdoor festival in a week.

On Saturday, parts of a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, killing five people and injuring dozens when winds of up to 60 miles per hour (96 kilometers per hour) to 70 miles per hour (112 kilometers per hour) hit the site.

Last month, a German woman died in a 30-meter (100-foot) fall from a tower at the Roskilde music festival in Denmark, but police said she likely committed suicide.

In 2000, nine people were crushed to death and 43 injured at the same festival during a Pearl Jam concert.


Associated Press Writers Gabriele Steinhauser and Don Melvin in Brussels, and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam, contributed to this report.


Pukkelpop festival: http://www.pukkelpop.be/en/homepage


A violent storm hit an outdoor rock music festival leaving at least four people dead and 70 injured in Belgium.

Pukkelpop - At least three people reported dead  (Pic: @JWDijk)

Pukkelpop – At least three people reported dead
(Pic: @JWDijk)

Four people have been killed after a storm ripped through a pop festival in Belgium.

A further 40 festival-goers were injured, seven of them seriously, 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.

Some 60,000 to 65,000 mainly young people were attending the sold-out festival when the storm struck late in the afternoon.

One was killed on the festival grounds and another on a campsite, Hilde Claes, mayor of the eastern Belgian city of Hasselt told a news conference.

The local fire service later said a third person had died.

The three-day Pukkelpop festival was set to have featured rapper Eminem and US bands Foo Fighters and The Offspring.

The festival was suspended and organisers were meeting to decide whether to proceed on Friday and Saturday as planned.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: