HASSELT, Belgium, Aug. 19 (UPI) — One of the largest outdoor music festivals in Europe was canceled after a stage collapsed during a storm in Belgium, killing five people, organizers said.
The violent storm struck Thursday just hours after three-day Pukkelpop kicked off in Hasselt, east of Brussels, CNN reported Friday.
Reports varied about the number of people injured, ranging from 50 to 70.
Strong winds uprooted trees, hurling them into one of the music venue’s eight stages, New Europe reported. The intense rainstorm lasted about 10 minutes.
Police were investigating why the stage collapsed and struck concert-goers gathered to watch the Smith Westerns perform.
“Pukkelpop is in deep mourning. We truly sympathize with the families and friends of the victims,” festival organizers said in a statement on the Pukkelpop Web site. “Words are not enough. We have struggled with the decision to continue the festival. Therefore, we have decided to cancel Pukkelpop 2011.”
Organizers asked Pukkelpop festival-goers to “return home calmly” and that they would provide buses and train service to get festival-goers home.
Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme offered condolences to the victims’ families, New Europe said.
Last week, a storm caused a stage to collapse at the Indiana State Fair, killing five people and injuring 40 others just before country music duo Sugarland was to perform.