A group of acrobats fell in the middle of a circus performance in Providence, R.I., today when the apparatus suspending them suddenly collapsed, shocking audience members.
The incident happened about an hour and a half into a performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' Blue Unit at the city's Dunkin' Donuts Center.
Eight female acrobats and one dancer were transferred to area hospitals, said the Providence public safety commissioner.
The general manager of the show said the acrobats were hanging from their hair when they fell 25 to 40 feet. He said all the injured acrobats are conscious.
"Their necks went forward -- it was awful," said audience member Sydney Bragg. “They kept the lights off so no children could see. When the lights went on, we could see them lying there. They started lowering the screens to cover it up.”
It's unclear what caused the structure to collapse.
Officials for the circus haven't determined whether they'll go forward with upcoming shows. The circus' Blue Unit debuted in January.