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August 18, 2011 


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FEATURE NEWS


Storm Kills 3, Injures 71 At Pukkelpop
Posted: August 18, 2011
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- At least three people have been killed and more than 70 injured at a music festival after a stage collapsed during a heavy storm.

The Chateau stage at the Pukkelpop festival, near the town of Hasselt in eastern Belgium, was apparently destroyed when trees were blown over in strong winds and crashed into rigging.

The Shelter stage was also damaged but is not thought to have caused any injuries. Some giant TV screens also fell down.

An estimated 60,000 people were at the three-day festival when the storm broke on Thursday.

Video from the site showed stage equipment dangling in gales as rain-battered festivalgoers ran for shelter.

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

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

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

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

The headline acts at the festival, about 50 miles (80km) east of Brussels, were Foo Fighters, Eminem and The Offspring. Its organiser Chokri Mahassine said today "we have for now put the festival on hold until we understand the situation completely".

It is the second deadly incident at an outdoor festival within a week. On Saturday, parts of a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis, killing five people and injuring dozens after winds with a velocity of 60mph (96kmph) to 70mph (112kmph) hit the site.

The Smith Westerns, who were due to play on The Chateau stage, wrote on Twitter: "Just found out the extent of damage. All of prays go out To those hurt."

Jared Leto, frontman with 30 Seconds To Mars who were due perform tonight, wrote on his own Twitter feed: "Four Stages Down - Still Raining + Thunder If You Are Here Please Be Safe.

"Serious Injuries At The Festival. More Bad Weather Poss Heading This Way. Please Take Care And Caution.

"PUKKELPOP UPDATE: Two confirmed dead. 40 at the hospital. Sending our thoughts and prayers."

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