(Thanks to Radioman911.com for assistance with this story.)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) —
At least five people died when a stage collapsed during a storm at the Indiana State Fair, where country act Sugarland was set to perform.
Some 40 people were injured in the Saturday night incident at the fairgrounds in Indianapolis. Strong winds caused the stage rigging for the outdoor concert to collapse, trapping and injuring concert-goers.
No one was performing at the time, witnesses said. The opening act had finished, and the crowd was waiting for Sugarland to take the stage.
Indiana State Police spokesman David Bursten told The Associated Press that a "strong gust of wind upset the rigging above the stage at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and caused a collapse of the structure over the stage."
Bursten said the injuries ranged from "very serious to cuts and scrapes."
Emergency crews were called to the scene, and workers were setting up a command center to tend to those who were injured.
The collapse came as thousands of concert-goers were being evacuated from the fairground grandstand to a nearby coliseum.
The stage rigging fell onto an area where some fans were seated.
"It was like it was in slow motion," concert-goer Amy Weathers told the Star. "You couldn't believe it was actually happening."
Associated Press photographer Darron Cummings was in the audience attending the concert as a fan shortly before the collapse. He said an announcer gave the crowd instructions on how to evacuate if the weather worsened, but said they hoped to get Sugarland on stage soon.
Cummings said he and his friends went ahead and sought shelter in a nearby barn after seeing the weather radar.
"Then we heard screams. We heard people just come running," Cummings told the AP.
Another person at the concert, Emily Davis, told WTHR that there was lightning and the sky had gotten dark but it wasn't raining when the wind suddenly toppled the rigging.
"It was horrible, people were running and going crazy," she said.
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."
Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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