Organizers Cancel Pukkelpop Festival as Death Toll Rises to Five

Organizers Cancel Pukkelpop Festival as Death Toll Rises to Five
Following Thursday's (August 18) tragic stage collapse at Belgium's Pukkelpop festival, the death toll has risen to five, with at least 75 more injured, after a fierce storm swept through festival grounds.

As Billboard reports, this morning organizers cancelled the remainder of the festival and plan to evacuate the 40,000 remaining concertgoers.

At about 6:30 p.m. local time on Thursday, a massive rain and hailstorm damaged three stages at Pukkelpop, held near the town of Hasselt, Belgium, with falling trees and debris wreaking havoc on the festival's infrastructure. The news initially broke in North America via Chicago indie outfit Smith Westerns, who tweeted that a stage collapsed during their set, nearly killing one band member and destroying their gear. Meteorologists did not predict a storm of such ferocity.

Pukkelpop was initially scheduled to run from August 18 to 20, with 220 acts to play over eight stages. Artists lined up to perform included Foo Fighters, Eminem, James Blake, 30 Seconds to Mars, Fucked Up and Odd Future, among others.

Following the incident, festival organizers issued the statement below:

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.

Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme offered condolences to the families of the victims, adding that authorities would continue to care for the injured.

This latest incident comes in the wake of last week's tragic collapse at the Indiana State Fair, an Oklahoman accident that sidelined a Flaming Lips set, and last month's destructive windstorm at the Ottawa Bluesfest.

You can see some footage of the horrific Pukkelpop event below.