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During a powerful storm at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, the stage collapsed onto the terrified crowd and injured 40 people while killing at least four.
The audience had been waiting for the band Sugarland to perform when the sky darkened and wind conditions, reported by the Indianapolis Star of up to 60mph, forced the steel scaffolding down.
According to the Huffington Post, the collapse came moments after an announcement that warned of the advancing storm. Concertgoers were waiting for Sugarland to take the staged when the announcer gave instructions on what to do if an evacuation was necessary.
But according to reports, the same announcer said concert organizers were hoping the show would go on which is why many fans stayed put.
Video footage show the stage structure falling down in seconds. Eye witnesses explained that the situation went into ‘pure pandemonium’ as people were running for their lives and then running to help those trapped under the wreckage.
“The stage just leaned to the right and crashed down. It felt to me like it was in slow motion. Everyone was scrambling at it was horrifying because you knew people were underneath it,” said one man to the BBC.
Many of the injured were those closest to the stage in the VIP section. Attendees helped security personnel lift the stage to get people out — some dived under the beams to look for badly injured.
Dave Bursten of the Indiana State police told the Huffington Post that the number of injured could rise because some may have taken themselves to the hospital. He added that injuries ranged from minor bruises to “very serious injuries” and that the death tool could rise. Among the casualties was a seven-year-old child.
According to WTHR, dusty wind just before the collapse created panic. Emily Davis, one person at the concert, told the station that it people were “running and going crazy.”
Another witness told Associated Press that the stage scaffolding had ‘wobbled’ before breaking: “You can’t imagine – we just thought it was going to rain or something.”
Mr Bursten also said that emergency crew continued to search the fairground on Sunday in case injured concert-goers has wandered off after the collapse. The fair cancelled all activities for Sunday but will resume Monday with a service to honor the victims.
Sugarland tweeted about the incident shortly after it happened. “We are all right. We are praying for our fans, and the people of Indianapolis. We hope you’ll join us. They need your strength.”