Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Singer tells of killer storm terror

A storm swept through a Belgium music festival, killing five people and injuring 70 others (AP/Yves Logghe)
A collapsed tent is strewn over the festival campsite near Hasselt in Belgium (AP)
A man walks through the damage at the festival campsite near Hasselt where fierce storms left five dead (AP)

Britrock band Skunk Anansie's lead singer Skin has told of the terrifying moment a fierce storm struck an open-air music festival, killing five people.

The band were playing when the storm began pelting the main stage - and the thousands watching them - with rain and hail.

The storm shredded the annual Pukkelpop outdoor rock festival in Belgium, blowing down huge canvas tents, uprooting trees and flinging multi-storey metal scaffolding towers and racks of concert lights across the grounds.

Organisers said five people were killed and 140 injured, 10 of them seriously.

Skin described the chaos on the band's Facebook page, saying "a burning hot sunny day turned into a mini-hurricane."

"(A) tower fell onto our truck, we had to run for our lives mid-set as hail hit the stage and the wind began to tear it to pieces," she wrote. "This was the scariest moment I have ever seen or felt in my 20 years of being an artist."

Toon van Wemmel, 26, a graphic designer from nearby Leuven, said "the hailstones came down so hard they caused bruises". He and his partner ran away from the main stage, turned around and saw trees crashing down where they had stood less than a minute earlier.

Officials said the dead were all Belgians, ranging in age from 15 to 59.

They cancelled the last two days of the three-day festival and blamed unprecedented weather conditions in the town 50 miles east of Brussels.

Hilde Claes, the mayor of Hasselt, spoke of a "nightmare" and said the town had never seen a storm like this. The storm lasted barely five minutes.

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