Nine Acrobats Injured in Providence Circus Platform Collapse

Disaster struck in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sunday when a circus platform collapsed, leaving nine acrobats hospitalized. A mechanism suspending the aerialists fell during a high-wire act at the Barnum and Bailey Circus performance at the Dunkin Donuts Center. There were about 20 acrobats performing during the act.

The acrobats were performing a "hair-hanging act" during the 11:00 a.m. circus performance, according to the Providence Journal, when the circular structure holding their wires collapsed. "They just dropped," one audience member told the paper. "It happened so fast you didn’t really believe it happened." The circus technical crew reportedly quickly turned the lights off to keep audience members from seeing the disturbing accident. While lights came on in time for spectators to see the performers on the ground, screens were soon brought in to further conceal the injured acrobats.

Emergency crews were quick to respond, with fire departments from three cities and at least ten ambulances reporting to the scene. Providence's fire chief reported during a press conference after the accident that six performers were critically injured and another three hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. The 3:00 p.m. show on Sunday was canceled, and the 7:00 p.m. show may be canceled as well.

"Everybody’s conscious," tour manager Roman Garcia reassured spectators during the press conference. "Everybody’s doing well. We ask everybody to pray for the girls."