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3 dead, 71 hurt in Belgium festival storm

At least three people were killed and more than 70 others injured when a storm hit an open-air music festival in Belgium today, an official said.

Video from the site near the town of Hasselt, about 50 miles (80km) east of Brussels, showed stage equipment dangling in high winds as rain-soaked concertgoers at the Pukkelpop festival ran for cover.

More than 20 ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

Hugo Simons, Hasselt's head of emergency planning, told VRT radio that 11 people were seriously injured while 60 other suffered slight injuries as a result of the storm.

Hasselt Mayor Hilde Claes said the injured had been taken to several nearby hospitals, with some of those who were only slightly hurt being treated at a local sports complex.

Chokri Mahassine, the organiser of the festival, said: "We have for now put the festival on hold until we understand the situation completely."

Dutch NOS television reporter Rick Hoogkamp, who was attending the event, said the sky got dark, winds picked up violently and hailstones pelted those gathered. He said several tents collapsed.

Images of the disaster also showed fallen trees and fallen lighting scaffolds.

The festival's website lists a number of stages where performances were to be held during the three-day event, which started today.

Reports said some 60,000 people were attending the event.

Belfast Telegraph

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