Storm kills 3, injures dozens at Belgian music fest

A storm swept through an open air music festival in eastern Belgium killing at least three people and injuring more than 70 others, an official says.
Police officers look at the wreckage following a heavy storm at the Pukkelpop outdoor music festival near Hasselt, northern Belgium, Thursday. Three people were killed and dozens injured. (Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters)

A storm swept through an open air music festival in Belgium killing at least three people and injuring more than 70 others, an official says.

Video from the site showed stage equipment dangling in high winds near Hasselt, about 80 kilometres east of Brussels, as rain-soaked concertgoers at the Pukkelpop music festival ran for cover Thursday.

Tents and lighting scaffolds were felled by the storm that tore through the grounds where the Pukkelpop outdoor music festival was being held. (Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters)
More than 20 ambulances were dispatched to the festival grounds outside of Hasselt, a small town in eastern Belgium.

Hugo Simons, Hasselt's head of emergency planning, told VRT radio that 11 people were severely injured while 60 sustained minor injuries as a result of the storm that turned the festival site into a scene of mud and destruction in a matter of about 10 minutes.

Hilde Claes, Hasselt's mayor, said those injured were taken to several nearby hospitals. Some were being treated at a local sports complex.

The band onstage at the time of the collapse was the Smith Westerns from Chicago.

Shortly after the incident, singer Cullen Omori tweeted: "Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the trees. I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our s--- is broke."

The Smith Westerns from Chicago were on stage when the storm struck. (Cory Schwartz/Getty Images)
A bit later he tweeted: "Apologise to anyone who mistook tweet. Wrote directly after running offstage. Just found out the extent of damage. All of prays go out."

Dutch NOS television reporter Rick Hoogkamp, who was attending the concert, said the sky got dark, winds picked up violently and hailstones pelted those gathered.

He said several tents collapsed. Images from the concert grounds also showed fallen trees and lighting scaffolds on the ground.

The festival's website lists a number of stages where concerts and performances were to be held during the three-day event, which started Thursday. Reports say some 60,000 people are attending the event. Headliners included Eminem, Foo Fighters and The Offspring.

A stage collapsed Saturday at the Indiana state fair killing five and injuring dozens more. A stage also collapsed at an Ottawa music festival while Cheap Trick was performing July 17. There were a number of injured, but nobody was killed.