Reuters International

BERLIN (Reuters) - Organisers of the "Rock am Ring" music festival in Germany said on Saturday they had no plans to close the event after 51 people were injured by lightning strikes on Friday, the first day of the three-day event, despite forecasts of further thunderstorms.

The festival, now in its 31st year and with the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Black Sabbath at the top of the billing this year, takes place at the airport in Mendig, near the Nuerburgring motor racing track.

"We are not considering cancelling the festival," said spokeswoman Katharina Wenisch.

The festival website warned visitors: "There is a possibility of strong rains and thunderstorms on Saturday evening. Visitors should be prepared and take precautions as needed."

German police, local authorities and the organiser were planning to hold a news conference later to discuss the incident.

The organiser had reported on its website early Saturday morning that at least 42 people were injured, eight seriously.

But the numbers rose as more fans reported injuries in the early morning hours, according to the police spokesman.

Thirty-three people were injured at the festival last year by lightning strikes, according to German media.

Wenisch said the festival had been sold out for months, with 92,500 people expected to attend.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Christian Goetz; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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