Wednesday, September 28

Attendees at the Medusa Festival: “An air came that burned, that burned the skin and immediately it was chaos”

Medusa attendees explain the “chaos” experienced during the early hours of this Saturday at the Cullera festival site (Valencia) when, as a result of strong gusts of wind, part of the main stage and other elements began to collapse.

The AEMET explains how the “blowout” that caused the tragedy of the Cullera Medusa Festival took place

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“We were dancing near the main stage and suddenly, from one second to the next, there was a burning air that burned the skin and was annoying. At the same time, dust was kicking up and, at first, we didn’t know if it was from the festival or not; we didn’t know if they were special effects. The music stopped, sirens began to sound and we saw people running from here to there,” Estefanía, a young woman from San Antonio de Benagéber who was enjoying the festival with five other friends, tells Europa Press.

Another of the attendees, Miguel, explains the “fright” experienced because “in the area where we were safest, it looked like a movie. They began to attend to the wounded and after ten minutes they began to evict us all”. This young man describes that when they were near the stage he saw “a kind of sign flying out” but this morning, when watching videos posted on social networks, he was able to verify that it was a “piece of the stage that had come down and detached.”

“If the wind goes backwards instead of going to the right, it catches us,” he details and adds: “Twenty minutes before, where the sticks fell we were.” In addition, he wonders what would have happened if the festival had not decided to suspend the pyrotechnics that he had scheduled. “It would have been an even greater catastrophe,” he predicts.

Marta describes a similar situation, which reflects the instantaneousness of the moment: “It happened suddenly, a gust of air rose with sand and the stage began to fall on the front rows,” says this young woman from Valencia who adds that at that moment “They stopped the music and ambulances started arriving.”

“People started screaming and running, but they evacuated the compound very well. The Police began to whistle and evict”, he describes, although he also expresses a “sense of being overwhelmed” because “no one knew what had happened, they did not communicate anything”.

For her part, Estefanía expresses her main fear at that moment: “More than the west or the wind, I was afraid that I might see an avalanche,” so they moved to an area where “it was relatively safer.” But, according to her, “it was chaos” in the face of the number of Local Police, health workers, private security and the Civil Guard, who began to attend to the wounded.

She got to see a girl having an anxiety attack and people trying to “bolster the structures” because “things had been blown off”, and many workers holding them down. “It was uncontrollable; you couldn’t trust that to hold up,” she says. They were evacuated through the camping area and left around five in the morning. At that time, she explains that they were left without coverage and could not notify the family and that many, when leaving, lost their cell phones.

three minutes of madness

The Fallas artist and creator of the Medusa stage, Manolo García, has lamented what happened at dawn this Saturday at the event venue, after strong gusts of wind that have collapsed part of the structure, and has underlined that “they have been three minutes of madness, everything has happened”.

“This had never been seen before,” said García, who assured Europa Press that the stage complied with safety regulations. In statements to the SER, he stressed that the stage was a “stable” structure with 60 tons of counterweight.

In this sense, he pointed out that the scenery “has not harmed anyone” and that what has caused the fatality and the injuries has been the aluminum structure because “the wind has overturned even the counterweights it was carrying” and furthermore, “He has thrown the entire cover on top of people; it carried six tons of counterweight and still has lifted it”.

“It was a kind of tornado and you couldn’t stand the heat,” he told Europa Press. The creator of the festival stage has pointed out that the strong wind has also blown away other objects such as tents and fences.

García has stated that, “although in Cullera it is normally windy, this had never been seen before”. In addition, he has stated that it could not be foreseen, since the weather forecasts did not predict such strong winds.