Pukkelpop Festival canceled after stage collapse kills five* (Updated)
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Thursday’s storm-driven stage collapse at Belgium’s annual Pukkelpop Festival, which killed five people and injured dozens, prompted organizers to cancel the rest of the three-day event headlined by Eminem, the Foo Fighters and the Offspring.
One of several stages collapsed as trees were uprooted by a heavy storm that dumped rain and hail on the festival near the city of Hasselt in the eastern part of the country.
Festival officials said they decided to call off the rest of the event out of respect to the victims. Three people were still in critical condition Friday morning, according to the Associated Press. An estimated 60,000 people attended.
‘I have seen many tropical storms, but this was unprecedented,’ Chokri Mahassine, organizer of 26-year-old festival, told AP.
Participating musicians quickly Tweeted reactions.
“Our deepest thoughts and sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives today at the show in Belgium,” Jared Leto of 30 Seconds to Mars wrote. “We are absolutely devastated that this celebration ended in tragedy. To those that were injured we are sending thoughts and prayers. Obviously under these horrible and dangerous circumstances, and out of respect for those who have passed, Thirty Seconds to Mars will not be playing. We love you all and hope tomorrow brings a better day.”
The Foo Fighters wrote: “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragic events at Pukkelpop.”
Update at 12:45 p.m.: The Offspring, which had not yet arrived in Hasselt for its scheduled performance, on Friday posted this note on its website: ‘As you may already know, the remainder of the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium has been cancelled due to yesterday’s catastrophic storm and the tragic loss of life. The Offspring were slated to perform on the main stage this Saturday night, but support and respect the festival’s decision. The band wish all the festival goers well and hope they are taking this time to heal and recover. They look forward to returning to Belgium soon.’
It’s the second deadly stage collapse within a week, after Saturday’s incident at the Indiana State Fair, where country-pop duo Sugarland was about to start a performance when a stage was ripped by a storm, also killing five people. A sixth victim of the Indiana stage collapse died Friday morning.
-- Randy Lewis