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15 Jul, 2008 00:31

Musical mystery: how did fans lose sight at techno gig?

More then 30 techno music lovers have found their eyes seriously damaged at an open air show near Moscow. It’s believed the severe retina burns may have been caused by a mishandled laser gun. Some people have lost 80% of their sight and are unlikely to re

The Aquamarine music festival was held last week in the Vladimir region, 190km east of Moscow. Many of the visitors were brought from the capital via rented buses.

Techno fans began to seek medical help the next day. Doctors say the injuries are permanent.

In a further twist, people who were at the concert complained that their cameras were damaged. “I tried to shoot the show, but in a few minutes the display showed a strange grid and then it went off for good,” said one angry fan.

An eyewitness reported seeing organisers put up a tent over the dance floor because it was raining, and in the process lowered a laser gun.

“Usually a gun is pointed into the sky,” he said. “People 50 or 70 meters away were caught in the beams from time to time.”

If the investigation shows festival organisers violated safety regulations, they are likely to face numerous lawsuits from the victims.

At the same time doctors say that those who sought medical help after the festival did not have any sort of retinal laser burns. They say there could be lots of reasons for the eye injuries, including excessive sound volume, contusions, the laser beams or even unknown drugs teenagers might have taken during the event.

Doctors believe the loss of sight among the young men is in no way permanent. They say the treatment they use gives good results and can return acute vision to the patients.