As waters part, enter Sir Bob with a sermon

Wristbands the only things still white as muddy campers raise them in a plea to make poverty history
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The Independent Culture

Thousands of festival-goers united behind the poverty campaigner Bob Geldof yesterday, promising to "face down" the handful of Western leaders with the power to help the world's poorest nations.

Thousands of festival-goers united behind the poverty campaigner Bob Geldof yesterday, promising to "face down" the handful of Western leaders with the power to help the world's poorest nations.

Geldof, the mastermind behind the planned Live8 concerts, appeared at the sodden Glastonbury music festival in Somerset to rally support ahead of the G8 summit on 6 July, a meeting of the world's richest countries.

With all other performers falling silent, Geldof urged the huge crowd to take a personal part in the campaign.

"This is not a question of money. To die of want is an intellectual absurdity and it is morally repulsive," he said.

"I would ask the people watching this on television to imagine half of this field dying now. And the other half dying tomorrow. And between them, those men at the G8 would have resolved it in 10 seconds.

"I want you to individually believe you can help change the condition of the most put-upon and beaten-down people on this planet."

Geldof, who was introduced by the festival's organiser, Michael Eavis, recalled that, 20 years ago, he had appeared at Glastonbury one week before Live Aid. Now it is one week before Live8, the worldwide event to support the Make Poverty History campaign.

"We will face down those eight men that can do this thing," he said.

This Saturday, 2 July, Geldof will co-ordinate eight music concerts around the world to raise awareness of poverty in Africa. He will seek to repeat the extraordinary success of his Live Aid event, which raised millions to help the starving in Ethiopia.

The Glastonbury festival, the highlight of the UK summer rock scene, opened later than expected on Friday after torrential rain turned the campsite in the south-west of England into a quagmire.

It squelched into life again yesterday as wellies, sandals and feet protected by only a thin covering of plastic bag stuck fast to the mud spread across the festival site.

If the huge pools and impromptu rivers that formed on Friday have largely disappeared, calf-deep swamps and long stretches of thick gunk have now taken their place.

Walking became a hazardous business as medical staff treated a stream of people with sprains, twists, broken bones and gashes caused by falling on hidden objects.

The mess proved too much for some, and around 2,000 had left by Saturday lunchtime. Others will find themselves unable to do so because several cars have been flooded up to their wheel arches.

Festival organisers have spent around £20,000 to upgrade drainage on the site, so questions will be asked about how it could fail so disastrously. Few, though, could have predicted such freak conditions or that such a volume of water would fall so swiftly; a month's rain fell in the space of just a few hours on Friday morning.

Those worst hit were in a field close to a drainage ditch. They were forced to evacuate their tents when the water rose past waist height - and the top of their canvas homes - within minutes.

Gemma Lunniss, from Dagenham in Essex, who was in one of the flooded fields, spent Friday night in a tent used for acoustic performances after the acts had finished. "I was left a bit stunned when it happened, but we thought we'd go out and buy some pear cider, got as drunk as a skunk and danced the night away to forget about it,'' said Ms Lunniss, who is having her first Glastonbury experience.

Extra camping areas had to be opened up to cope with people moving their tents, and 400 were given temporary shelter in barns, marquees and a church hall.

One man died at the festival on Friday evening, in what is thought to be a drink- or drug-related incident. Friends alerted medical staff after the 25-year-old, from Street in Somerset, collapsed but a doctor and paramedics were unable to resuscitate him. By yesterday nearly 1,500 people had been treated by medics.

Attempts to cope with the mud continued yesterday, with people queuing for 400 metres to buy wellies.