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The BBC's James Helm
"The police investigation continues to look at what went so badly wrong"
 real 28k

The BBC's Michael Voss
"One of Europe's largest music events"
 real 28k

Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 01:56 GMT 02:56 UK
Festival continues despite tragedy
Young people grieve and pray during a memorial service
People grieved and prayed during a memorial service
An open-air rock festival in Denmark is to carry on - despite the deaths of eight fans at a concert on Friday.

Organisers decided that the festival, attended by 90,000 people, should continue.

Defending their decision, they said they were concerned about what would happen if about 100,000 spectators were asked to leave the site at Roskilde, near Copenhagen, at short notice.

But a number of bands, including the US group Pearl Jam and the British groups Oasis and the Pet Shop Boys, cancelled their concerts following the tragedy.

Distressed woman
Fans were left in distress after the tragedy
The eight festival-goers - all men - died as the crowd surged forward on a muddy farm field during a Pearl Jam concert.

Twenty-six people were injured, three of them seriously.

"The festival spirit has gone," said Edwin Walter, 16, of Sweden. "We'll stay because going home would mean turning our back to what has happened."

But a 20-year-old woman said she would leave.

"The fun has been ruined. My heart's not in it any more," she said.

Police are still struggling to identify the bodies.

They say the four identified so far were of fans of four different nationalities - reflecting the festival's huge international following.

The victims were a 26-year-old cadet police officer from Hamburg, a 23-year-old Dutchman and three Swedes, two of them aged 22 and one 20.

Three Danes, including a 17-year-old, also died.


I think we are all waiting for someone to wake us and say it was just a horrible nightmare

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam told of their horror at what had happened.

"This is so painful. I think we are all waiting for someone to wake us and say it was just a horrible nightmare," the band said in a statement.

"There are absolutely no words to express our anguish in regard to the parents and loved ones of those precious lives that were lost."

The band cancelled their concerts in Belgium and the Netherlands on 2 and 3 July.

British bands Oasis and the Pet Shop Boys also pulled out of their scheduled Saturday night appearances.

"Oasis and Pet Shop Boys felt that out of respect for those who have died and their families, it is inappropriate to go ahead with tonight's performances," the two groups said in a joint statement.

Investigation

Police have carried out forensic examinations of the scene, trying to establish exactly how the tragedy happened.

They say security barriers were left intact, and are investigating whether the muddy conditions played a major part in the deaths.

Roskilde fetival the morning after
It was Roskilde's first major incident in 30 years
Erik Olsen, 17, of Norway, said people climbed on top of each other to get air.

"The guy in front of me was so shocked he simply screamed. It was impossible to get anywhere," he told a Swedish newspaper.

Other fans said people had kept pressing forward despite appeals by the security guards and the singers.

"All of a sudden there were scenes of pushing, panic, shouts, then the music stopped, replaced by howls and screams. It was unbearable," said rock fan Lars Nielsen.

"I felt that something was going to turn nasty because lots of people were in a trance and didn't listen to calls for them to behave," said another witness, Michael Rasmussen. "It was impossible to contain them."


Distressed fan
People made their way out of the stage area in tears
Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen called the accident a "terrible and tragic" event.

"It is very difficult to put words on the fact that so many young people have lost their lives," he said, adding that ministers would investigate how to improve conditions at festivals.

The Roskilde festival, held every year since 1971 on a farm near Copenhagen, was inspired by the 1969 Woodstock Festival in the US.

Last year, it drew some some 100,000 people - making it one of the biggest rock events in Europe.

A total of 175 bands were expected to perform this year.

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See also:

01 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Brit bands pull out of festival
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