Deadly storm strikes Belgium festival

Five dead and more than 70 hurt as abrupt storm turns outdoor festival into scene of destruction.

    Video from the site showed stage equipment dangling in high winds, as drenched concertgoers fled [AFP]

    A storm has swept through an open-air music festival in eastern Belgium, killing at least five people and injuring more than 70 others.

    Organisers estimated some 60,000 people were at the three-day festival on Thursday when the storm broke.  Many fled after the storm turned the festival site into a scene of mud and destruction in a matter of about 10 minutes.

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

    Hugo Simons, Hasselt's head of emergency medical planning, told a local radio station that three people died, 11 were severely injured and 60 sustained light injuries as a result of the storm.

    Hilde Claes, Hasselt's mayor, said those injured were taken to several nearby hospitals.

    Chokri Mahassine, the organiser of the Belgian festival, said "We have for now put the festival on hold until we understand the situation completely".

    It is the second deadly incident at an outdoors festival within a week. On Saturday, parts of a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, in the US state of Indiana, killing five people and injuring dozens after winds as strong as 112 kph hit the site.

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

    He said several tents collapsed. Images of the disaster also showed fallen trees and fallen scaffolds.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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