Officials Probe Fatal New Hampshire Tent Collapse When Circus Show Started 20 Minutes After NWS Activated Severe Thunderstorm Warning

New Hampshire’s fire marshal said Tuesday it wasn’t clear why a circus operator proceeded with a show minutes after the National Weather Service put out a severe storm warning, as 60 mph winds collapsed the tent, killing two spectators.

Just two days after a tent collapse killed a man in Wood Dale, Illinois; a circus tent at Lancaster Fairgrounds about 90 miles north of the capital of Concord, New Hampshire collapsed and killed a father and his daughter.

The storm, packing 60 mile-an-hour gusts, hail and much lightning, blew through around 5:30 p.m. Monday, just as the first of two scheduled shows was beginning.

Dozens of emergency crews from surrounding towns rushed to the scene, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

New Hampshire State Fire Marshal Bill Degnan said about 100 people were inside the tent when the storm hit, and a man and a girl died. Their names were not released in the initial press conference. About 32 injured people were transported to four regional hospitals. The extent of injuries were not immediately known.

The scene is being investigated, including the mapping of all cables and how structures were connected. Witnesses reported seeing spikes pop out of the ground before the tent collapsed. Some of the injured people were hit by poles.

The circus operator, Sarasota, Fla.-based Walker International Events, did not return a call seeking comment late Monday. The circus was scheduled to head to Bradford, Vermont, for shows on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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