Stage Collapse Tragedy at Pukkelpop Fest

 

Death toll currently
stands at 5 for Belgian concertgoers.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Yesterday (Aug. 18) at the annual Pukkelpop music festival in Hasselt Belgium a massive metal stage
scaffolding collapsed during a violent thunderstorm. Initial reports had the
death toll at 3, but by this morning it had risen to 5, reports the Associated
Press
. At least 140 people were injured as well, “10 of them seriously,”
according to estimates.

 

Associated Press: “‘There are
still three patients in critical condition fighting for their lives,’ Dr.
Pascal Vranckx of Jessa Hospital in Hasselt
told reporters. He said many of the injured were hit on the head by flying or
falling debris.”

 

The festival was scheduled to run
Thursday, Friday and Saturday but the remaining events were canceled in the
wake of the tragedy. Among th3 220 acts booked for the sold-out festival were
Foo Fighters, Eminem, the Offspring, Explosions in the Sky and Panic! At The
Disco.

 

Given that there have been three
other serious stage- and severe weather-related incidents just in the past
month – July 17, at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, the stage collapsed during
Cheap Trick’s set
, although no serious injuries were reported; August 6, at
Tulsa’s Brady District Block Party festival, a lighting rig fell prior to the
Flaming Lips’ set
, again with no serious injuries; August 13 at the Indiana
State Fair the stage collapsed before a Sugarland concert (and just shortly
after opening act Sara Bareilles had performed), and this time five people were
killed and many injured – the call for more intense regulation of outdoor
concert events will inevitably grow louder. As a compelling recent article at
Billboard.biz
pointed out, while “concert mayhem is neither new nor unique”
(citing the 1979 Who concert were eleven people died during a stampede), “what’s
changed over time is the size of the events and pressures on promoters,” with
concertgoers and the artists themselves wanting shows to be “bigger and better
and more elaborate.”

 

Bob Romeo, CEO of the Academy of Country Music, was quoted as saying, “Any
promoter you would talk to that’s done outdoor shows probably saw the video of
what happened [at the Sugarland concert] and said, ‘That could be me. That
could be any of my colleagues.’ At one time or another, if you do enough
outdoor shows, you are going to face those scenarios.”

 

The Billboard report continued, “Safety regulations, experts
say, haven’t kept up the pace in part because they aren’t standard. No single
government agency oversees or sets rules for outdoor concerts, leaving a range
of guidelines across events.” Added Paul Wertheimer of Crowd Management Strategies,
on an ominous note, “It’s the Wild West when it comes to standards and
guidance and consistency. People from place to place can do whatever they want.”

 

 

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