NEW YORK - Eight circus acrobats were seriously injured when they fell at least 25 feet (8 meters) to the ground after an aerial apparatus collapsed during a performance in Rhode Island on Sunday, shocking a packed house of spectators.
About 10 other performers were also injured in the accident which happened around noon during a performance by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, the Providence Fire Department said.
The acrobats, all women, had just begun a "hair hang"performance, swinging through midair tethered by their hair, when the equipment holding them collapsed, said Stephen Payne, a spokesman for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Brothers.
The women were hanging from different heights and fell between 25 and 40 feet (8 and 12 meters) to the ground. A performer on the floor was also badly injured, fire officials said.
Because the performers were attached to the equipment and could not let go, a safety net below was not required, Payne said.
There was no immediate description of the kinds of injuries the performers suffered. All were expected to survive.
A video taken by spectator Aletha Wood, who was at the circus with her two young children, showed the equipment and the performers at the start of the show hidden by a cloth cover lit by blue and red lights.
The cloth fell away to reveal the acrobats dressed in sequined costumes and hanging from a circular canopy apparently suspended by a cable. One of the performers was hanging beneath the rest.