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Failure Of Steel D-Ring May Have Caused Circus Accident

The failure of a 5-inch steel D-ring known as a carabiner may have been the cause of an accident over the weekend that injured nine members of a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey acrobatic troop.

"It was a single piece of equipment that failed," Providence, R.I., fire investigator Paul Doughty told reporters.

The accident occurred in Providence on Sunday when the support apparatus for an aerial stunt suddenly gave way, dropping performers to the ground. Nine members of the troop were injured and two others were hurt on the ground.

But The Associated Press says:

"Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare stopped short of saying the broken carabiner was the cause of Sunday's accident.

"He said federal workplace safety investigators were trying to determine why it snapped.

" 'We don't know if it was metal fatigue, if it wasn't properly positioned or something else,' he added. 'We just don't know.' "

CNN says:

"The carabiner was rated for about 10,000 pounds, and the weight of the performers and the rig that fell was about 1,500 pounds, he said.

"Doughty declined to say if the rigging appeared safe. But Providence Fire Chief Clarence Cunha said his crews would not rely on a single carabiner for safety."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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