Pattaya Daily News

15 August 2011 :: 10:08:25 am 57277

At least 5 killed, 45 injured at Indiana state fair

WASHINGTON, August 14, 2011 - At least five people were killed and 45 injured after a stage structure collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, local officials said Sunday.
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The tragedy occurred late Saturday when a gust of wind brought down the stage rigging for a Sugarland country music concert shortly before 9:00 pm (0100 GMT Sunday).

“We are very much in mourning the loss of the victims and we are praying with their families. It’s a very sad day at the State Fair and our hearts are really breaking,” a visibly shaken Cindy Hoye, the fair’s executive director, told reporters after police confirmed a fifth person died overnight.

Police identified those killed as Fort Wayne resident Alina Bigjohny, 23, Christina Santiago of Chicago, 29, and Indianapolis residents Tammy Vandam, 42, Glenn Goodrich, 49, and Nathan Byrd, 51, who died in hospital overnight.

“We continue to ask Hoosiers across the state for their continued thoughts and prayers for the family members of the deceased as well as the injured,” said First Sergeant Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police.

“I want to be very frank that there is a possibility we could have other deaths,” Bursten said earlier.

He said 45 patients were being treated at area hospitals. Authorities have warned the death toll could climb again as some injuries were “very serious,” ranging from cuts and bruises to fractures and head trauma.

A crew member was among the dead, while a 17-year-old will likely lose the use of his legs, according to local media. A seven-year old was also among the injured.

The fair, scheduled to run through August 21, was closed Sunday, with officials planning to reopen their doors Monday with a service honoring the victims.

“Indiana and the nation’s finest fair suffered an unthinkable tragedy last night,” said Governor Mitch Daniels, praising the public’s outpouring of help.

“What needs saying most about last night’s freakish accident was that we saw on display the best qualities of both public and private Hoosiers,” he said, using the term for natives of the midwestern state.

Nobody was performing on the stage when the tragedy occurred. Witnesses said the opening act had finished, and the crowd was waiting for the country music band Sugarland to begin its concert.

“All of a sudden there was a second gust and the stage started to twist slowly. The grandstand started to shake. Everyone started to run instantly to try and get out,” Jason Scofield told WTHR television.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued for Marion County just minutes before the concert was to begin.

Emergency crews and fans quickly converged on the collapsed stage and worked to free those who were trapped, The Indianapolis Star newspapers reported.

“The response was excellent not just from first responders but from participants, people that were attending the event,” said public safety official Frank Straub.

“When the structure came down, people at the event worked with emergency providers tried to lift the structure to help people underneath.”

Sugarland expressed its condolences to the families of the victims.

“We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis,” the group tweeted. “We hope you’ll join us. They need your strength.”

Reporter : AFP   Photo : AFP   Category : World News

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