Germany: Lightning Strike Injures 71 People During Music Festival

Seventy-one people attending a major rock music festival in Mendig, Germany, were injured after lightning strikes caused by a thunderstorm wrecked havoc in the region. According to Reuters, more than 90,000 fans were attending the popular “Rock am Ring” festival when the thunderstorm struck the region on Friday. The venue of the festival was a local airport in the town of Mendig, located very close to the Nuerburgring motor racing track. The town is located about 100 km (62 miles) west of Frankfurt.

According to a spokesperson from the German Red Cross society, the total number of injured individuals were more than 71. He added that eight individuals had to be hospitalized. While most of the injured were released from the hospital after a checkup, the condition of one individual remains uncertain as he remained in the hospital. Initial reports about the incident put the number of injured at 42 individuals. However, it later became evident that more than 70 were affected by the lightning strike — eight of them badly.

As the storm approached, several people were forced by the organizers to take shelter in cars and tents. Following the lightning strike, the festival was stopped for more than five hours, after which the organizers confirmed that the festival would go on. The major attraction this year at the festival were the scheduled appearances of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath.

In a press conference following the incident, the organizers confirmed that they were aware about the prospects of bad weather affecting the festival and that the 92,500 estimated participants were told in advance about the same.

“We are not considering cancelling the festival,” said spokeswoman Katharina Wenisch.

Marek Lieberberg, the organizer of the festival later told fans on the website of the festival;

“The festival will continue as planned on Saturday. Cancellation… was never an issue.”

However, hours after this announcement, the organizers were forced to cancel the final day of the festival after local authorities revoked its license, citing safety concerns. This was after the weather department warned of more thunderstorms in the region, even as the organizers planned to go ahead with the festival. The organizers announced the cancellation via a Facebook update (in German).

While several rock music fans were left disappointed by the decision to call off the festival, which is currently in its 31st year, many others have criticized the organizers for not cancelling the event soon enough.

This is not the first time a lightning strike has wrecked havoc during a music festival in Germany. Last year, 33 people were injured at the same festival — again — by lightning strikes, several German media outlets reported. Similar weather conditions over the past week have resulted in several near-fatal incidents across Europe. It was just last weekend in southwest Germany that 35 people were injured, three seriously, after a lightning bolt struck a football match. In Paris, which is reeling under severe floods, 11 people were hurt by a lightning strike during a birthday party.

[Image by Bidgee | CC BY-SA 3.0 au | Wikimedia Commons]