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Ind. State Fair To Reopen, Honor Victims

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 15 (UPI) — A public memorial service honoring five people killed in the collapse of a stage in high winds marks the reopening of the Indiana State Fair, officials said.

The fair was scheduled to reopen Monday, CNN reported. It closed Saturday following the accident shortly before the country duo Sugarland took the stage, CNN reported.

The Indianapolis Star said fair officials were considering alternate plans for events planned at the grandstand this week, including performances by Janet Jackson and Train.

Investigators Sunday searched stage debris, trying to determine what caused the accident that also injured 40 people, officials said.

“We’re all very much in mourning of the loss of the victims and we are praying with their families,” Cindy Hoye, the fair’s executive director, said.

Scaffolding collapsed onto the “Sugarpit,” a section typically reserved for Sugarland’s most devoted fans, minutes after officials onstage warned the audience to seek shelter, a timeline released by investigators indicated.

“It’s not clear to me at this stage how anyone could have foreseen a sudden, highly localized gust of wind in one place,” Gov. Mitch Daniels said.

Forecasters had said heavy rain and strong winds would hit the fair about 2 hours before the storm was expected to moved through. The National Weather Service estimated winds at 60 to 70 mph.

Sugarland and its opening act, Sara Bareilles, canceled a performance at the Iowa State Fair.

Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles posted a statement on the duo’s Web site Sunday, saying, “[There] are no words to process a moment of this magnitude and gravity. … There are only prayers for peace in the hearts of the bereft, and prayers of thanksgiving for those who were spared or safe. A piece of our heart is left in that grandstand.”

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