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Ryan Cooper

Pukkelpop Festival Cancelled After Tragic Deaths

By August 19, 2011

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Just a few hours from our new digs in Amsterdam, organizers have decided to cancel the remainder of Belgium's Pukkelpop Festival (link) after a stage collapsed yesterday, killing five and injuring more than 70. Among the bands slated to play were Rise Against, The Offspring and Face to Face.

Organizers have issued this statement:

Pukkelpop is in deep mourning. We truly sympathise with the families and friends of the victims. Words are not enough. We have struggled with the decision to continue the festival. Therefore we have decided to cancel Pukkelpop 2011.

What has happened is very exceptional and could not have been predicted. We are deeply moved by all the spontaneous support the festival goers and the organisation have received.

We call on all Pukkelpoppers to return home calmly. Extra buses and trains have been organised to bring everybody home.

We ask everyone to understand that this decision was extremely difficult to make.

Chicago rock band Smith Westerns were on stage at the time, and frontman Cullen Omori made this statement on his Twitter feed immediately following the incident:

Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the tress. I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our s**t is broke.

He later followed his statement up with:

Praying no got hurt. Wtf.

When the severity of the event became apparent, Omori deleted the inital tweet, following up with:

Apologize to anyone who mistook tweet. Wrote direclty after running off stage. Just found out the extent of damage. All of prays go to those hurt.

No members of Smith Westerns were hurt in the crash, and the band issued this official statement:

We had just finished the first song of our set at Pukkelpop when the stage/tent started shaking and simply thought it was a storm passing through. I made a comment about Cheap Trick and we were about to play the next one when our tour manager yelled at me to run off the stage. Right then the tress collapsed 1 foot in front of Max. At this point we thought only the stage broke, not the tent. Amid the chaos it was hard to tell exactly what had happened, but after the rescue teams started coming in it became clear that there were severe injuries and we are now being told there are reports of multiple deaths. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones in today's tragedy.

This tragedy comes just days after a similar event took place at the Indiana State Fair, where five were killed and dozens injured when a gust of wind hit the stage before a performance by country artist Sugarland took the stage.

We would like to issue our condolences to the friends and families of the killed and injured in both of these tragic events.

More:

The Worst Tragedies at Live Music Events

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