Two people were killed and more than 20 injured when a circus tent collapsed in a storm during a performance in New Hampshire.

Authorities said about 100 people were inside the tent at the Lancaster Fairground, about 90 miles north of the state capital in Concord, when it fell down on Monday.

The US National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area around the time of the collapse.

Lancaster police said the big top collapsed during a show. Governor Maggie Hassan said afterwards that state officials were monitoring the situation.

Safety officials worked through Monday night investigating the collapse, including how the tent was put up, and spoke with survivors and witnesses.

Fire marshal William Degnan said it was the first time his agency had investigated a tent collapse. The storm, with 60mph wind gusts and hail, blew through around 5.30pm just as the first of two scheduled shows was beginning.

Degnan said a man and a girl died, while the injured were taken to four regional hospitals.

The circus, operated by Walker International Events based in Sarasota, Florida, had been scheduled to head to Bradford, Vermont, for shows on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area during the time of the collapse but Degnan could not immediately say whether the spectators had been aware of the approaching storm’s strength.

The collapse happened a day after one man died and more than a dozen were injured when a tent where people had sought shelter during a brief storm blew off its moorings and fell on some of the crowd at a festival in a Chicago suburb. The annual celebration known as the Prairie Fest had attracted about 5,000 people.


[The Guardian – original article]

[Picture: The Guardian/Sebastian Fuentes/AP]