German rock festival suspended after 72 injured in storm

AP News
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Posted: Jun 04, 2016 12:00 PM
German rock festival suspended after 72 injured in storm

BERLIN (AP) — A rock festival in western Germany was suspended Saturday after scores of people were injured in a lightning storm and forecasters predicted more severe weather.

Paramedics said more than 70 people were hospitalized after a storm struck the Rock am Ring festival late Friday at a former airfield near Mendig, 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Frankfurt.

Organizers on Saturday urged tens of thousands at the festival to seek shelter in their tents or cars, saying local authorities had ordered them to put the festival on hold.

"It's not about causing panic but giving people the feeling that someone is looking after them," said Marek Lieberberg, head of the organizers.

The German Red Cross said 72 people were taken to the hospital due to the storm — including those who got electric shocks from nearby lighting strikes, were hit by flying debris or had serious asthma attacks. Spokesman Frank Bredel said one person had to be revived by paramedics and remained in critical condition Saturday.

Rock am Ring is one of the most popular festivals in Germany and has been staged since 1985. Performers this year include Tenacious D, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath.

Lieberberg dismissed reports that organizers had failed to act quickly enough to warn music fans about the storm, blaming instead the "catastrophic weather situation in Germany" for the large number of injuries.

Germany, along with neighboring France and Belgium, has been hit by severe storms that have caused heavy flooding and at least 16 deaths in the last few weeks.

Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, chairman of ticketing company Eventim, said organizers hoped to be able to resume the show later Saturday if the weather improved, but warned that more storms have been forecast for Sunday.

"Visitors' safety is our top priority," said Schulenberg.