Thursday 18 August 2011 has become a very black day in the history of Belgian festivals. It was announced it was going to be a warm summer day, but it would be ended by a little thunder and lightning accompanied by some heavy rain showers. Kiewit, near Hasselt, got more than that… Pukkelpop 2011 merely started but had to be shut down again the same day due to a natural disaster which costed five people their lives and it could still become more…

Immediately the critics stood up, mostly coming from journalist and other media side. How could this happen? Why wasn’t there any back up plan? Why wasn’t everything done to prevent this? All of them seemed to have one and only one answer. The organization did it’s job very poorly and now people got killed. Personally I don’t understand why they point the finger towards the organization? Can’t they see this was heavier than expected? Do they really think an organization with over 20 years of experience doesn’t know what they are doing? This really ain’t the first time a festival got struck by thunder, lightning and heavy rain. But it was one of the first times a real storm hit a festival. Certainly in Belgium and the rest of Western Europe, where it rarely storms like it did a few days ago.

A few points of comment…

They were warned by meteorological institutes about the bad weather predictions.

I don’t agree. As you can see and read in this article (sorry, it’s in Dutch) there were heavy conditions predicted and foreseen, but they clearly state heavy rains and harsh winds. But there is footage from the scene where you can see this is much much more than this. This was a pure storm! They also say it started in Eastern Flanders and went via Antwerp and Brabant towards Limburg (where the festival took place). Even if they had followed the other areas, they would’ve been hit harder. The other areas only had to deal with heavy rain. Nowhere there was any hail or even any harsh wind.

The organization wasn’t organized at all and did (almost) nothing.

Again I don’t agree. The area was built up the way it should’ve been, with enough room and place to shelter in case of rain. Off course you can’t foresee shelter for over 60.000 people. No organization can foresee this. The different locations have always been set up far away from each other, so there won’t be any “trafic jams” and nobody would stampeed over each other in case of panic. An organization like this always foresees different scenarios and changes small details on scene along with the changes of the weather forecast. Surely Pukkelpop does the same. When the rampage took place, nobody hesitated and everyone got helped as much as was possible. There isn’t a single visitor to be found that has any comment on the first aid and the organization and communication of the first hours after they got hit.

Surely there are more comments and I am even more sure I can explain perfectly why they are wrong. But I would like to stress out that the media has played a very dirty part in this story. Almost all big media companies had nothing but comments and not only the Belgian media. The Dutch media was hard as well. According to them it’s typically Belgian to not take responsability for wrong decisions (and there aren’t any) and they are wondering if it should be forbidden to organize festivals in the summer. Who’s the fool now, mister NOS? There even are media that take this whole damned thing to an unbelievable level.

Clint even takes it to a racial level. Above quote (sorry, Dutch again) quotes the organizer of Pukkelpop Chokri Mahassine. His name already indicates he’s from no Belgian origin and the writer of this piece dares to end this quote with Choco, an alludation on Chokri and meanwhile a comparison the the colour of his skin (on an insulting way). This is absolutely not done and a pure disgrace! Afterwards, probably after a shitload of comments, the writer changed it to Chokri, but the damage was already done and luckily the proof taken as well. They changed it without any comments or apologies or whatever by the way. As they wanted to cover this up. This has got to be the most disgusting thing that happened the past 2-3 days. I sincerely hope the writer gets fired and he and Clint receive a huge penalty for this!

This whole event is food for discussions for hours and hours and I could say a hell of a lot more than I already did now. But I want to let images speak for themselves. Check out below film and feel the shivers rolling down your spine…

Terzake – Toen de hel losbarstte op de festivalweide (Nederlandstaligen zullen zien dat er trouwens ook een kemel van een DT-fout op de website staat) [intussen is de DT-fout aangepast, merk ik]

I would also like to stress out we may NEVER forget the following…

Roskilde, Denmark 2000

Love Parade, Germany 2010

Pukkelpop, Belgium 2010

Indiana State Fair, United States 2011

and now… Pukkelpop, Belgium 2011


~ door danielezeffirelli op 20 augustus, 2011.

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