By Al Goodman and Alex Stambaugh, CNN
One person died Saturday and 17 have been injured, three of them seriously, after a stage collapsed at a music festival near Valencia, Spain, according to local officials.
Disaster struck at the Medusa Festival in the town of Cullera near Valencia at 4:18 a.m. local time “due to a strong gust of wind,” they said.
The man killed was 22 years old, the Spanish Civil Guard told CNN.
The Civil Guard, Spain’s paramilitary police unit that is in charge of the investigation, also said there was more damage than just the partial collapse of the stage.
“Due to a strong gust of wind, the main entrance and the main stage of the Medusa Festival in Cullera fell to the ground,” a spokesperson in Valencia told CNN.
There were about 50,000 people at the festival site when the incident happened, it said, adding that it took 40 minutes to evacuate people from the festival, with the exit doors functioning properly.
Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia regional government, offered condolences to the victim’s family and friends in a Saturday tweet.
“A terrible accident that shocks all of us. I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young man who died early this morning at the Medusa Festival in Cullera,” Puig said.
Early Saturday morning, festival management announced on Instagram that they had suspended the festival “due to inclement weather… with the aim of guaranteeing the security of the concert-goers, workers and artists gathered at the Medusa Festival.
Later Saturday, organizers officially canceled the festival, saying that the “adverse and unexpected weather conditions that are expected to continue throughout the day oblige us morally and out of responsibility to put an end to our 2022 edition.”
“It is a day of mourning. And respect for those affected,” organizers said in a statement posted to social media, adding: “Our thoughts constantly are for each and every one of those affected, directly or indirectly, by the unfortunate, unexpected and unavoidable accident.”
Videos posted on social media early Saturday showed strong winds and structures falling from the stage as large crowds of festival attendees were evacuated.
The Valencia section of Spain’s national weather service (AEMET) said on Twitter that warm breezes were producing very strong gusts of wind and abrupt increases in temperature.
Around 3 a.m. local time, the temperature was a blistering 40.5 Celsius (104.9 degrees Fahrenheit) at the Alicante-Elche airport, just south of the concert site, on the Mediterranean coast — with winds measuring 82 kilometers (around 50 miles) per hour.
Temperatures have been soaring across Europe with droughts declared in several parts of England and wildfires in France.
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