Yet another stage collapse plagues the summer of 2011: A structure in Belgium collapsed today at the Pukkelpop Music Festival in Hasselt (pictured at left), and authorities have already confirmed at least four deaths.
Foo Fighters and 30 Seconds to Mars were among the headliners; Chicago indie rockers the Smith Westerns were set to perform next and lost all of their equipment, though they were not physically injured.
UPDATE: Footage from the collapse has surfaced online. Watch it here:
Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori, who wasn’t yet aware of the deaths, took to Twitter to document the events as they unfold. “Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the tress,” Omori tweeted about an hour ago from his smartphone. “I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our s–t is broke.” Soon after, Omori tweeted the following: “Praying no one got hurt. Wtf.”
Said 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto on his own Twitter: “CRAZY STORM AT PUKKELPOP IN BELGIUM – NOT SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO GO ON STAGE – STAY TUNED. SAFETY FIRST.”
There’s evidence to suggest the collapse was weather-related: Earlier in the day, Omori tweeted, “Looks like it’s going to rain. #tentstage #teeheehee,” and weather reports confirm that it’s been a stormy, windy afternoon in Hasselt.
It’s been a bad month for outdoor stage structures: A stage collapsed at a Flaming Lips concert in Tulsa on Aug. 8, and an Indiana stage collapse killed five Sugarland fans and injured dozens of others last weekend.
The remainder of today’s Pukkelpop event has been canceled.
UPDATE: Some news outlets are reporting one death, others as many as six; we’ll keep you posted as more information becomes available.
UPDATE: Cullen Omori issued a statement earlier today via Pitchfork: “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 [guitarist] Max [Kakacek]. 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.”