Sunday, 14 August 2011

Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

Authorities said they have confirmed at least four deaths after a stage collapsed Saturday night during a storm at the Indiana State Fair, where the country group Sugarland was set to perform.

About two dozen people were reported injured in the incident at the fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Strong winds caused the stage rigging for the outdoor concert to collapse, trapping and injuring concert-goers shortly before 9 p.m.

No one was performing at the time. The opening act had finished, and the crowd was waiting for Sugarland to take the stage.

A massive gust of wind brought down a stage at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday night, killing at least five and injuring more than 30, officials said.

Authorities said they feared more casualties.

"A big gust of wind came through. You could see a lot of people panicking. All the scaffolding and speakers -- all that came crashing down -- and the whole stand just collapsed," said Aaron Richman, who witnessed the collapse at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

Allison Hoehn said many rushed to those trapped after the stage crumbled.

Winds cause stage collapse Stage collapses at state fair

"We tried to get down to help, but no one was moving," Hoehn said. "The storm came on so fast and the stage just snapped like a toothpick.

"Everyone rushed to help and we saw people searching and pulling people out. (I) saw five people go away on stretchers. It was amazing how many people ran in to try to lift the scaffolding."

The Indianapolis Department of Public Safety posted on its Twitter page the death toll and said that 24 people had been taken to area hospitals.

Two local hospitals placed the number of injured at 43, including some walk-in patients.

Capt. Brad Weaver, commander of special operations for the Indiana State Police, said he took the stage at 8:45 p.m. to warn the audience of severe weather.

Ten minutes later, the wind gust blew through.
He said he "saw the framework from the stage start to come over."

He said he and others took cover behind a trailer, which was also struck by debris from the stage.

Singer Sara Bareilles had finished her set at the Hoosier Lottery Grandstand stage when the wind knocked down the rigging on to the stage.

"I'm speechless and feel so helpless," Bareilles said on her Twitter page. "My heart aches for the lives lost."
The show's headliner, country music duo Sugarland, was to take the stage next.

"We are stunned and heartbroken for the fans and their families in Indiana." said Sugarland singer Jennifer Nettles. "We hold those injured in our prayers at this very sad time. There are no words. It is tragic."
The official Twitter page of the Indiana State Fair said officials would make announcements "as they come."
Earlier this month, severe weather caused a stage to collapse before a Flaming Lips performance in Oklahoma.

The August 6 incident occurred after heavy winds and rain pounded Tulsa, ending a block party music festival that featured Primus, the Flaming Lips and other acts. A lighting rig fell down and struck audio equipment and instruments. It was unclear whether there were any injuries.

And last month, a severe storm toppled a stage when classic rock band Cheap Trick was performing. No one was seriously hurt during the incident at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest in Canada.

The Indiana State Fair, now in its 159th year, began in 1852 after the state's general assembly passed an act to "encourage agriculture."

Many famous acts have performed at the fair through the years, including Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West and Garth Brooks. In 1964, the Beatles performed two sold-out shows to an audience of almost 30,000.

A representative for Sugarland could not immediately be reached, but the top-selling, Grammy-winning country duo tweeted about the incident on its Twitter page and released a statement on its website.
"We are all right after our stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair tonight," the website statement said. "Many of our fans and friends in Indianapolis may not be. Please keep them in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever form of strength you are able to send. They need you. Thank you."


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