70 people injured as storm hits Pukkelpop festival in Belgium and tears down two platforms, sound towers, tents and trees

Tragedy: Belgian event has been cancelled

Rock band the Smith Westerns have told how they ran for their lives as a storm brought down the stage they were playing on in Belgium yesterday.

Five people have now been reported dead with over 70 injured after two stages, equipment, sound towers, tents and trees were torn down in just a few minutes of heavy wind and hail at the 60,000 capacity Pukkelpop festival.

The rest of the event, due to feature the Foo Fighters, 30 Seconds to Mars and the Offspring, has now been cancelled.

It’s the fourth serious incident of the year following the death of five people at the Indiana State Fair last weekend and similar but non-fatal events in Tulsa and Ottawa.

One person died in the festival arena while another was killed at a campsite. Officials say a third body has also been found. At least eleven casualties are said to be seriously injured.

Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori says: “We were about to play our second song when our tour manager yelled at us to run off the stage.

“Right then a steel bar collapsed one foot in front of our guitarist, Max Kakacek.

“It was hard to tell exactly what had happened, but after the rescue teams started coming in it became clear there were severe injuries. We were told there had been multiple deaths.”

The band lost their equipment in the tragedy, although their publicist says: “That’s kind of an afterthought at the moment.”

Chokri Mahassine, organiser of the festival which has run every year since 1985, says: “Pukkelpop is in deep mourning.”

The Foo Fighters say: “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragic events at Pukkelpop.”

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