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State Fair Stage Collapse Causes Numerous Casualties

Gust of wind at grandstand in Indianapolis kills four, injures 40; State Fair closed through Sunday.

State Fair 044A

Photo: Margie Michna/WFIU

The canopy above the VIP spectators collapsed after hurricane-force wind gusts hit it. State Police said an evacuation was being prepared, but had not been ordered.

2:00 a.m. update:

First Sgt. Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police issued a statement and took a few questions on behalf of ISP, the Indianapolis Fire Department, and the Indiana State Fair.

Bursten confirmed that the gust of wind that collapsed the stage rigging killed four people, with more fatalities still possible. He said the coroner’s office was working to identify two of the four, and did not provide details about either of the two who have been identified. In addition to the dead, Bursten confirmed, emergency personnel have treated at least 40 injured people.

Bursten said officials were continuing to sweep the fairgrounds for people who might be injured and lost. He advised family members seeking missing loved ones, or wanting to update information about people involved in the incident, to visit the Red Cross website and click on the “Safe and Well” link.

The Indiana State Fair will be open only to essential staff on Sunday. He said he expected a memorial service to occur, then for the fair to reopen to the public on Monday morning.

12:30 a.m. update:

Indiana State Police is reporting 40 injuries in addition to the four confirmed deaths in the State Fair stage collapse. Officials are expected to provide additional details in a press conference at about 1:30 a.m.

11:40 p.m. update:

Indianapolis news outlets are reporting confirmation from the Marion County Coroner’s Office that four people have died in tonight’s State Fair stage collapse, and that more fatalities could follow. 26 have been injured, reportedly including several children. As late as 11:30 p.m., according to The Indy Channel, Indiana Task Force One members were working with area fire, police, and K-9 units to rescue concertgoers from the wreckage.

Sugarland, the country band that had been slated to take the stage, tweeted this message: “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.”

Sugarland’s opening act, singer Sara Bareilles, who had left the stage several minutes before the rigging collapse, posted this to Twitter: “I’m speechless and feel so helpless. Please send love and prayers to Indianapolis tonight. My heart aches for the lives lost. #indyiloveu”

10:11 p.m. update:

A stage collapsed during a severe thunderstorm that hit the Indiana State Fairgrounds shortly before a concert Saturday night. The Indianapolis Star is reporting three deaths and two dozen injuries.

A wind gust brought stage rigging onto the front rows of the crowd of 12,000 that was awaiting a 9 p.m. performance by the country music act Sugarland.

David Lindquist, a Star reporter who was attending the show, said emergency personnel and fans moved in to help those injuried and trapped by the unmoored stage set. Despite the heavy storm, Lindquist said, the efforts to free trapped concertgoers moved quickly, concluding within 20 minutes. Rescue crews set up a triage area in a tunnel below the stage to tend to those injured.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said in a Twitter message about an hour after the incident, “Thoughts and prayers are with those injured at the Indiana State Fair tonight. We are monitoring the situation and will provide updates.”

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