News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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August 13, 2011

SUNDAY UPDATE: 5 dead in Indiana State Fair stage collapse

Injury total now tops 40

INDIANAPOLIS — Five people have now died and more than 40 injured when a stage collapsed Saturday night during a storm at the Indiana State Fair, where the country group Sugarland was set to perform.

Indiana State Police 1st Sgt David Bursten said Sunday that four people died when the collapse happened and the fifth person died overnight at a hospital. The victims have not been identified.

The incident at the Indianapolis fairgrounds occurred shortly before 9 p.m. when strong winds caused the rigging that holds lights and other equipment to topple onto fans, many of them in the VIP section closest to the stage. The injured included at least one child, WTHR reported.

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

Hundreds of concert-goers rushed to tend to the injured, lifting the steel scaffolding off them and providing medical care. Emergency crews set up a triage center in a tunnel below the grandstand.

Witnesses reported seeing many people with head and neck injuries and broken bones.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers confirmed the deaths and number of injured and said the injuries ranged from "slight to very critical." He did not offer any additional details.

Wishard Memorial Hospital spokesman Todd Harper said the hospital had 16 patients, none of whom had life-threatening injuries. Harper told WTHR the hospital's youngest patient was 7 years old.

Concert-goers said an announcer had alerted them that severe weather was possible and gave instructions on what to do if an evacuation was necessary. But the same announcer said concert organizers hoped the show would go on, and many fans stayed put.

The wind that toppled the rigging came just minutes after the announcement, fans said.

"It was like it was in slow motion," concert-goer Amy Weathers told the Indianapolis Star. "You couldn't believe it was actually happening."

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