BERLIN – A rock festival in western Germany was suspended Saturday after scores of people were injured in a lightning storm overnight and forecasters predicted more severe weather.
Police said more than 70 people were hospitalized when lightning struck the Rock am Ring festival at a former airfield near Mendig, 100 kilometres west of Frankfurt, late Friday.
Organizers on Saturday urged tens of thousands of visitors at the festival to seek shelter in their tents or cars, saying they were following orders from local authorities 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.
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 neighbouring France and Belgium, has been hit by severe storms that have caused heavy flooding in recent days.
Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, chairman of ticketing company Eventim, said organizers hoped to be able to resume the show late Saturday if weather improves, but warned that more storms have been forecast for Sunday.
“The visitors’ safety is our top priority,” said Schulenberg.