At least 19 young people have been taken to hospital with serious injuries following a crowd crush incident at the Falls festival at Lorne in Victoria.
A spokesman from Ambulance Victoria said paramedics assessed about 80 people, of which 19 were taken to hospital with injuries ranging from lower leg injuries to pelvic injuries. One person was reported to have spinal injuries.
Fifteen of the injured were taken to Geelong Hospital, and four to Lorne. The spokesman said it was the first incident of this kind at the festival.
Ambulance Victoria state health commander Paul Holman said paramedics and ambulances were on site, and worked with first aid providers to triage and assess more than 60 people injured in the crush.
“We transported 13 women and six men to hospital, mostly with lower limb fractures. Injuries included leg, rib, hip and pelvic fractures, possible spinal injuries, head and facial injuries, cuts and abrasions. Patients’ ages ranged from late teens to late 20s,” Holman said in a statement.
“It was quite a chaotic scene and required a major response. While the injuries are significant, this could have been quite a tragedy and we are grateful that the outcome was not worse.”
In a statement, festival organisers said the crush happened when part of the crowd left the Grand Theatre stage, where DMA’s had been playing, to watch London Grammar in the Arena. Further events in the Grand Theatre were cancelled for the night but all normal programming was due to resume on Saturday.
Eyewitness accounts reported the crush as a “stampede” with bones broken, shoes torn off and mobile phones crushed.
Adam Dean, of Ringwood, was in the crowd and told Fairfax Media one of his friends was injured. “After DMA’s there was a huge rush of people coming out and he got trampled, everyone was pushing people out – it was bad.”
Dean said his friend was “alright, legs got scratched up massively, reckons he basically got dragged like 10 metres over gravel from everyone trampling him. But he’s all good.”
Fans posting on the festival’s Facebook page said the incident could have been even worse. “It was extremely serious ,” Lucy Spry wrote. “So many of us thought we weren’t going to make it out of that. Not enough exits for such a large crowd!”
Tom Jewell posted: “My girlfriend got caught up and we were so lucky that she got out after we got split up in the crush. Seriously traumatic for her and many many more.”
Bee Armstrong wrote: “My friend has to help another friend up three times and was beginning to get crushed by the crowd. She said as she was CRAWLING under the side of the tent to escape there were bodies lying down.”
Police said a large number of people were injured after those at the front of a crowd leaving a performance by the band DMA’s lost their footing at about 9.50pm on Friday.
None of the injuries was life-threatening, police said in a statement.
Mobile phone reception at the site was poor, and anyone with inquiries was asked to email [email protected]