SLOVAKIA’s biggest open-air music festival, called Pohoda, ended tragically on July 18 after a massive thunderstorm and gale-force winds blew down a tent, erected by the Bosser Zelte company, covering the O2 Arena while it was hosting a concert attended by hundreds of people. The incident took the life of a 29-year-old man from Piešťany and dozens of other people were injured at the site – the military airport in Trenčín. In all, 40 festival-goers were hospitalised and another 56 were treated by emergency medical personnel.
Most of the injured were released from hospitals within a week of the incident, including a man from England whose improved condition allowed him to be transported back to his homeland.
A 19-year-old girl who suffered severe head injuries is still hospitalised in the Martin Faculty Hospital, in an induced coma. She underwent surgery to her head in both Trenčín and Martin and since July 24 the doctors have started the process of slowly awakening her. On July 27 she was breathing independently, the head of the Anaesthesiology and Intensive Medicine Clinic, Beáta Sániová, told the SITA newswire.
“She is stabilised and no significant changes have occurred; the news is that the patient is now breathing independently,” Sániová told SITA.
Another severely injured victim was a 25-year-old man who was hospitalised in Žilina with a diagnosis of severe cerebral oedema. The process of awakening him from artificial sleep was started July 27, SITA reported. According to the director of the Žilina hospital, Daniela Bekeová, the patient also suffered a devastating eye injury and the surgeons have done everything possible to save his eye, SITA wrote.
The organisers of the Pohoda festival have established a special phone number and e-mail address where relatives of the injured can make contact.
The police have started an investigation of the tragedy and are considering a criminal prosecution on charges of general threat, thus far without any specific accusations. The head of Pohoda’s organisational team, Michal Kaščák, has been interviewed by the police, as well as a representative of the Bosser Zelte company. According to SITA, the owner of that company has not arrived in Slovakia and the festival organisers have claimed that phone communication with him has been limited.
Bosser Zelte company attempted to remove the tent from the Trenčín airfield but a court has ordered the tent to remain on the scene of the tragedy for one month, as was requested by the festival organisers.
The tent is being guardedby a private security service pending examination by experts from the Institute of Forensic Engineering of Žilina University.
Whether the festival’s 13-year tradition will continue next year has not yet been announced, SITA wrote. Earlier, Kaščák told the Sme daily that this could have been the last edition of the festival. People have been expressing support for the festival in several ways. Many have joined groups on the social networking site Facebook to support Michal Kaščák, the founder and main organiser of the event.
More than a hundred people holding candles gathered on Hviezdoslavovo Square in Bratislava on the evening of July 19 to remember the young man who died at the festival and to express their sympathy and support for those who were injured and for the festival itself, the TASR newswire wrote.