The Chateau and The Shelter stage at Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium have collapsed during a severe storm just as Chicago rock band Smith Westerns were about to take the stage.
** New reports coming in suggest five people have been killed in the incident and seventy left injured. So far no offical statement has been made by the festival on the scale of the damage.
In a notice on the Pukkelpop website organisers have set up a site to pay respect to the victims and have announced that the festival has now been cancelled, after initially suggesting they would proceed with the two remaining days of live music on site.
The organisers released this official statement;
“Pukkelpop is in deep mourning. We truly sympathise 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. What has happened is very exceptional and could not have been predicted. We are deeply moved by all the spontaneous support the festivalgoers and the organisation have received. We call on all Pukkelpoppers to return home calmly. Extra buses and trains have been organised to bring everybody home. We ask everyone to understand that this decision was extremely difficult to make.”**
Belgian media reported initially that trees were uprooted at the festival and smashed into stage rigging, bringing it down.
Television pictures from the Pukkelpop Festival, which attracts nearly 60,000 to the venue near the town of Hasselt, east of Brussels, showed fallen stage rigging and people scrambling for cover.
The Smith Westerns, who were due to play on The Chateau stage wrote on Twitter: “Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the tress, I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our shit is broke.” A further tweet read: “Praying no-one got hurt.“
Jared Leto, frontman with 30 Seconds To Mars who are due to headline the main stage tonight, wrote on his own Twitter feed: “CRAZY STORM AT PUKKELPOP IN BELGIUM – NOT SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO GO ON STAGE – STAY TUNED. SAFETY FIRST.“
Pukkelpop 2011 takes place in Hasselt, Belgium. Foo Fighters were due to headline tonight, Eminem tomorrow and The Offspring Saturday.
This cameraphone recording of the moment the stage collapsed is one of the few pieces of media that has been uploaded from the site. Warning: contains footage that some users might feel disturbing.
Other footage has also emerged from the site as festial goers try to escape from the storm.