August 2, 2009 / 3:46 AM / 9 years ago

Stage collapse kills 1, hurts 15 in western Canada

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - One person was killed and 15 were injured at a country music festival near the western Canadian city of Edmonton on Saturday when the main stage collapsed during a severe windstorm, police said.

Billy Currington was wrapping up his set at the Big Valley Jamboree, a four-day event near Camrose, about one hour’s drive southeast of Edmonton, when the stage gave way in sudden high winds, local media reported.

The injured were taken to hospital after rescue workers pulled them from around the area of the main stage, police said, adding that organizers had not yet decided whether the festival would go on.

One of the performers, Jessie Farrell, said she was in her trailer when she was told a storm was on its way. The stage gave way just a minute and a half later. The most intense high winds, rain and lightning lasted for about an hour, she said.

“I didn’t feel a storm coming at all and I went back into our trailer and looked out the window and watched the entire stage collapse,” she told CTV news.

“The whole world shook. Our trailers were all shaking and a massive wind, a kind of explosion almost, came through the stage and flattened it.”

The storm was part of a major system that blew through much of the province of Alberta on Saturday, bringing high winds, heavy rain and hail.

Early reports said dozens of people may have been trapped by the collapsed stage but police later confirmed the number of injured at 15.

Hollywood actor Kevin Costner and his band Modern West were on the roster to perform after Currington. Others on the bill over the four days ending on Sunday included the Kentucky Headhunters, Tim McGraw, Glen Campbell, Willie Mack and WYATT.

Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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