Camp owner hosting Cloud 9 music festival dies after electrocution

The owner of one of the three holiday camps hosting a music festival in Sinai’s Nuweiba died on Saturday after being electrocuted on the beach.

Artist Nurah Farahat, who was presenting an installation at the Cloud 9 music festival, said eyewitnesses told her that Hamdan was electrocuted while walking by the shore at dawn after stepping on decorative lights that were not laminated properly.

Nahla Jabi, who was staying at a camp next to the festival, also told Mada Masr that Hamdan died on Saturday, the last day of events, a fact that was confirmed on the Cloud 9 Facebook event on Tuesday.

“Hamdan himself was telling them that it was not safe and that they couldn’t have electricity on the beach like that,” Farahat told Mada Masr.

“The organizers’ answer to this was that the electricians who installed these lights knew what they are doing,” she said, adding that this was days prior to attendees’ arrival to the festival’s third edition.

She also said that a number of people had commented on how unsafe the lights were, especially given the number of attendees and that alcohol consumption by many festival-goers could make accidents more likely.

But Lameece Gasser, one of Cloud 9’s founders, told Mada Masr that Hamdan had not brought the hazard to their attention.

The third and final day of the festival was cancelled after the incident, despite some attendees’ disappointment.

“The Cloud 9 team moved immediately to attend to him, pulling him away from the wire causing the incident,” read the statement posted on the Cloud 9 Facebook event on Tuesday. “At the same time, the main switches were shut down to cut all electricity in the entire camp. 3am Hamdan was immediately provided with CPR from the doctor and was rushed to the hospital in Nuweiba.”

“Following the incident, the Cloud 9 team convened to cancel all following music engagements for the festival, and coordinated for the stage to be taken down right away after a public announcement to all attendees present at the main hut in Dayra Camp,” the statement added.

Someone who tried to save Hamdan was also electrocuted but survived, Farahat said.

“Hamdan told me personally that prior to the festival the police brought him in, telling him that if anything were to happen to anyone at the festival they would hold him responsible,” Farahat said. “So I don’t know who they will hold responsible for this.”

“His family are saying that it’s fate and are not pressing charges,” she added.

The festival was hosted by three adjacent camps: Dayra, Sawa and Yasmina. Dayra hosted the main hangout spot, the food area and the acoustic music tent, while Sawa hosted the artists and Yasmina hosted the main stage and the art installations.

Many Facebook users were angered that the Cloud 9 team did not make a public statement about Hamdan’s death until Tuesday.

Several people, including Jabi, went to the event page to express dismay at the lack of communication from the organizers. She was shocked that, for three days after the festival finished, the Cloud 9 Facebook page admin was leaving thank you notes with smiley faces and hearts under comments by people saying that the festival had been great.

“I kept waiting for someone from Cloud 9 to say something,” Farahat said. “They were not clear. They left it up to rumors.”

When the Cloud 9 team released the statement on Tuesday evening, they wrote that they had waited three days “in respect to his soul.” Gasser also told Mada Masr that they were waiting for the sake of leaving three days for mourning.

Mohamed Serag Eddin, who introduced himself to the Facebook event page as Dayra camp’s owner, commented on a thread on the page that he took Hamdan to the hospital, where he died.

“Cloud 9 has nothing to do with it … It was human fault by Hamdan himself … They don’t have something to apologize about,” he wrote.

Some people accused the organizers of negligence, while others posted tributes to Hamdan.

Organizational problems occurred on the first day of the festival, Farahat said. The generators hadn’t arrived from Cairo, so there was no music until replacement generators arrived from Sharm el-Sheikh, she explained.

Hamdan, who was in his 40s, was seen by many as one of the icons of the Nuweiba stretch of holiday camps. According to personal accounts, he frequently sat with his guests, sharing stories of other visitors who had come by and adventures he had. 

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