The first evening of the “Eurocks”, crowned in March 2020 “best festival” in the world at the Arthur Awards and initially scheduled over four days to accommodate up to 130,000 spectators, with the closing Muse concert event, was canceled Thursday.
A security commission will meet on Friday morning to decide whether or not to maintain the event until Sunday.
“Today at 4:30 p.m., when the festival had just opened its doors, a violent gust of wind accompanied by very heavy rain caused the fall of a light structure, in the shape of a marquee, in front of the Eurockéennes gate, which caused seven injuries, one of whom required his evacuation to the hospital for multiple fractures”, explained the prefect of the Territory of Belfort, Raphaël Sodini, who came to the scene.
“This event led us, with the organizers, to suspend the Eurockéennes festival which will not take place this evening. We will see tomorrow (Friday), depending on the damage on the site, if we are able to resume. cancellation is always possible, but it is not our wish,” he added.
Falling trees also occurred outside the site and in the rest of the department, placed in orange vigilance for thunderstorms by Météo France, causing a traffic accident with two minor injuries on the highway, a-t- he adds.
– “Many tents flew” –
From the end of the afternoon, violent gusts swept through the Malsaucy peninsula, where the festival is held, and two very heavy downpours fell on the site as the first spectators began to arrive, noted a AFP journalist.
According to the prefect, 3,000 to 4,000 festival-goers were on the site at the time of the gales, including 2,000 campers.
“On the campsite, a lot of tents flew”, he noted, adding that the campers had been welcomed in a “hard structure” located on site.
Many festival-goers left by car, while others were sheltered in gymnasiums.
“Our objective at the moment is to secure the perimeter of the site and the campsite (which can accommodate around 20,000 people, editor’s note). We cannot take the risk of opening for the moment, we will check all of the perimeter to ensure that everything works for a recovery tomorrow”, underlines Hervé Casteran, the communication manager of the festival.
“The exit routes are now secure and festival-goers are being evacuated safely,” organizers said in a statement. The prefecture has activated the Departmental Operational Center (COD).
TER shuttles set up by the SNCF, a partner of the festival, to transport a small part of the spectators, have been temporarily interrupted.
“With the gusts, a tree threatened to fall on the railway and a train had to be stopped, we evacuated customers”, explained Nabil Djaafer, director of communication for SNCF in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.
The Belgian singer Stromae and the duo Bob Sinclar and Pedro Winter, present for a tribute to “all that the French Touch has done best”, were to be the headliners of the first evening of this 32nd edition.