Video Shows Horrifying Accident that Left Two Acrobats in Critical Condition

Emergency personnel attend to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performers who were injured when the scaffolding they were performing from collapsed in Providence, Rhode Island, May 4, 2014. Aletha Wood/Reuters

(Reuters) - Two circus acrobats were in critical condition on Monday a day after the rigging that suspended them by their hair collapsed during a performance in Providence, Rhode Island, badly injuring nine performers and shocking the audience.

Three were in serious condition and three others in good condition, according to a spokeswoman for Rhode Island Hospital, where the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus acrobats were brought after the collapse on Sunday. Another performer was treated and released on Sunday.

"The injuries were severe on some of the performers, but none appear to be life threatening at this time," said circus spokesman Stephen Payne in an e-mail. He added that the circus' remaining performances in Providence, all scheduled for Monday, had been canceled.

The all-female team fell about 40 feet to the floor, hurting one performer on the ground and stunning the audience of about 3,900 people, some of whom were initially unsure if the drop was part of the act.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating the cause of the collapse on Monday, a spokesman said.

"As with any OSHA inspection, its purpose will be to determine whether or not there were any violations of workplace safety standards in connection with this incident," said the spokesman, Andre Bowser, adding that the agency could not estimate how long its investigation would take.

Feld Entertainment, the company that owns Ringling Bros. and produced the show, canceled Monday's scheduled performances as it looked into the cause of the collapse.

A woman, who identified herself as an executive of Feld, said on Twitter that she had visited some of the injured performers.

"Was able to visit some of our injured performers last night," Nicole Feld, an executive vice president of the company said. "In complete awe of their strength and spirit."

The company's other productions include Disney On Ice, off-road motorcycle racing and monster truck shows.

In 2011, Feld Entertainment paid $270,000 to settle charges by the Department of Agriculture that Ringling animals were mistreated.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals agreed in 2012 to pay $9.3 million to Feld Entertainment to settle a lawsuit brought by the company in response to dismissed legal claims that Ringling mistreated elephants.

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