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COLOGNE, Germany – Organizers have cancelled Belgium music festival Pukkelpop after a sudden storm killed at least 5 people and injured around 140.
“Pukkelpop is in deep mourning. We truly sympathize with the families and friends of the victims. Words are not enough,” the festival wrote on its homepage.
Clouds darkened a sunny sky Thursday and turned into a furry. Within 10 minutes, strong winds had knocked down trees and torn down two of the festival stages as well as speakers and huge projection screens. Several trees were torn up by the roots.
“A burning hot sunny day turned into a mini hurricane which hit the stage during our set,” tweeted Brit rocker Skin, the singer of the band Skunk Anansie after the event. “A tower fell onto our truck, we had to run for our lives mid-set as hail hit the stage and the wind… began to tear it to pieces, we were unable to continue to play, this was the scariest moment I have ever seen or felt in my 20 years of being an artist.”
A tent in which Chicago indie band Smith Westerns were playing, and in which fans had fled to seeking shelter, collapsed. Directly after the collapse, Smith Westerns front man Cullen Omori tweeted: “Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the trees. I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our shit is broke.” After the extent of the tragedy became clear, Omori deleted his original tweet and updated: “Apologize to anyone who mistook tweet. Wrote directly after running off stage. Just found out extend of the damage. All of prays go to those hurt.”
The storm hit on the first day of the three-day Pukkelpop fest. Bands scheduled to play that have now cancelled included Eminem, The Foo Fighters and The Offspring.
The Foo Fighters, Blink-182, Joel Madden and Chuck Comeau were among the many musical artists who Tweeted their condolences for the victims. Organizers have set up a Facebook page for people to pay their respects for the victims of the storm.
But the festival denies it could have prepared better for the tragedy. “What has happened is very exceptional and could not have been predicted,” organizers said. The Pukkelpop disaster is the four stage collapse at a music festival this summer and comes after a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair just before Sugerland were about to play.
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