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Stage collapses at Pukklepop during Smith Westerns set

By Tricia Cathcart
On August 19, 2011

The toll has come to five dead and 75 injured in yesterday's horrific stage collapse at Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium, which occurred during a set by Chicago band Smith Westerns.

Shortly after the band began to play, a heavy storm hit, with the band members narrowly escaping harm. Moments after the incident, Smith Westerns member Cullen Omori tweeted, "Stage collapsed max almost got crushed by the threes. I hope pukkelpop has insurance bc all our s**t is broke."

Guitarist Max Kakacek is a former DePaul student.

Omori followed up with, "Apologize to anyone who mistook tweet. Wrote directly after running off stage. Just found out the extent of damage. All of [our prayers] go out"

Later in the day, he said in a statement that the band had finished its first song when the stage began shaking. They assumed it was "a storm passing through. We were about to play the next one when our tour manager yelled at me to run off the stage. Right then (a metal bar that holds up the tent) collapsed 1 foot in front of" Kakacek.

This morning, festival officials declared that the remainder of the festival is to be cancelled and concertgoers remaining on the grounds would be evacuated. Artists that were scheduled to perform in the coming days included Crystal Castles, Lykke Li, Eminem, The Antlers, Cults and Odd Future, among many others.

In a statement on the Pukkelpop website, organizers wrote, "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."

Below is video of the stage collapse:

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