SLOVAKIA's biggest open-air music festival, called Pohoda, ended tragically after a massive thunderstorm and gale-level winds tore down the tent covering the O2 Arena, which was hosting a concert attended by hundreds of people on July 18. The accident has taken the life of a 29-year-old man from Piestany and another 52 people were injured at the festival’s site – the military airport in Trenčín, according to the website of daily Sme. Forty people were hospitalized, said Sme.
On July 19, doctors at the Žilina hospital were still fighting for the lives of three seriously injured festival-goers, the director of the Trenčín Faculty Hospital, Rudolf Lintner, told the SITA newswire. All of the hospitalized young people suffered serious skull injuries and one of them is being kept in an induced coma.
The organizers immediately cancelled the remainder of the festival. While the evacuation of people from the festival site was peaceful and organised, problems emerged at the parking area where cars had to wait more than two hours before leaving, Sme wrote.
Festival organizers provided indoors accommodation at the local sports hall in Trenčín to people who were not able to immediately leave the vicinity.
The police are now investigating the tragic accident. According to SITA, approximately one hour before the massive storm hit the area, the festival’s organiser, Michal Kaščák, warned people about the approaching storm, recommending that families with children should leave the area. The festival was also suspended for three hours. However, the concert at the O2 Arena tent, which collapsed in the storm, was still ongoing.
The Pohoda festival is Slovakia’s largest and most popular open-air festival, which mixes various music genres with accompanying events such as film screenings, theatre performances, and programmes for children as well as discussions on politics and society.
Festival organiser Michal Kaščák had said that this could be the last annual running of the event.
19. Jul 2009 at 20:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff