Update: Pukkelpop Festival Disaster

The latest reports about Thursday’s stage collapse at Belgium’s Pukkelpop Festival estimate that at least three people were killed and more than 70 were injured.

A storm with high winds wrecked havoc on the open-air music festival within about 10 minutes, according to the Associated Press.

estival organizers estimate that 60,000 people were at the event, which began Thursday at Kempische Steenweg in Hasselt, Belgium
A number of publications are quoting Hugo Simons, Hasselt’s head of emergency medical planning. Simons reportedly told VRT radio that three people died, 11 were severely injured and 60 sustained light injuries.

Earlier reports estimated that as many as six people were killed.

More than 20 ambulances arrived at the festival grounds. Hilde Claes, Hasselt’s mayor, said the injured were taken to several nearby hospitals and some of the lightly injured were treated at a local sports complex.

The three-day festival was scheduled to run through Saturday with a lineup including Eminem, The Foo Fighters, The Offspring and Deftones.

Chokri Mahassine, the organizer of the Belgian festival, said that the festival is now “on hold until we understand the situation completely.”

Along with pouring rain and sudden, intense wind, the storm also brought hailstones nearly half an inch across. Britian’s The Telegraph reports that the festival’s Chateau stage was apparently destroyed when the storm blew trees down. The newspaper added that giant screens and a second stage also collapsed.

In addition, the Associated Press wrote that lighting scaffolds, a large food tent and concession stands were knocked down.

Smith Westerns was one act scheduled to perform at the festival Thursday. The group’s Cullen Omori initially tweeted, “Stage Collapsed max almost got crushed by the tress. I hope Pukkelpop has insurance bc all our shit is broke.”

The Chicago-based indie rock band later deleted that tweet and added: “Apologize to anyone who mistook tweet. Wrote directly after running off stage. Just found out the extent of damage. All of [prayers] go out to those hurt.”

30 Seconds To Mars never got a chance to take the stage. Singer Jared Leto chronicled the storm through his own Twitter page.
“CRAZY STORM AT PUKKELPOP IN BELGIUM – NOT SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO GO ON STAGE – STAYED TUNED. SAFETY FIRST
“FOUR STAGES DOWN – STILL RAINING + THUNDER IF YOU ARE HERE PLEASE BE SAFE”

The following statement from Leto was later posted on 30 Second To Mars’ website:

“Our deepest thoughts and sympathies to the families and friends of those who lost their lives today at the show in Belgium. 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 disaster at Pukkelpop Festival occurred less than a week after a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. On Saturday winds up to 70 miles per hour caused a stage to topple, killing five people and injuring dozens. The incident occurred in between Sara Bareilles’ opening set and Sugarland’s headlining show.

Pollstar will have more information shortly.