Update: Remainder of Belgium's Pukkelpop Festival Cancelled After Stage Collapse Leaves Five Dead

The remainder Belgium's Pukkelpop festival has been cancelled off by its organizers after high winds brought down the Chateue stage at the festival yesterday. The Shelter stage was also damaged by fallen trees. At least five fans were killed when the stage collapsed, with over 70 others injured.

The organizers of the festival issued the following statement earlier today on yesterday's tragic events:

"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 festivalgoers and the organisation have received. We call on all Pukkelpoppers to return home calmly. Extra buses and trains have been organised to bring everybody home. We ask everyone to understand that this decision was extremely difficult to make."

In the midst of the chaos, 30 Seconds To Mars frontman Jared Leto wrote on his Twitter account: "CRAZY STORM AT PUKKELPOP IN BELGIUM – NOT SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO GO ON STAGE – STAY TUNED. SAFETY FIRST."

Chicago indie rockers Smith Westerns, who were scheduled to play the Chateau stage, released the following statement yesterday via their website:

"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 one foot in front of Max. 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."

Foo Fighters -- who were scheduled to headline the main stage -- Tweeted the following message: "Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the tragic events at Pukkelpop."

The news follows the recent collapse of the stage at the Indiana State Fair due to high winds which left five dead and several more injured, and a stage collapse at the Ottawa Bluesfest led to a narrow escape by Cheap Trick.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.