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Witnesses said dirt, dust, rain and wind came barreling up the fairground’s main thoroughfare minutes later and the stage collapsed.

Jessica Alsman said the towering, metal scaffolding “kind of wobbled at first.” Then pandemonium set in as it fell.

“As soon as we saw the wind gust, the wind was in our faces,” Alsman said. She and three friends grabbed each other and formed a chain.

“You can’t imagine _ we just thought it was going to rain or something,” Alsman said.

Indiana’s position in the Midwest has long made it prone to volatile changes in weather. In April 2006, tornado-force winds hit Indianapolis just after thousands of people left a free outdoor concert by John Mellencamp held as part of the NCAA men’s Final Four basketball tournament.

And in May 2004, a tornado touched down south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, delaying the start of the Indianapolis 500 and forcing a nearly two-hour interruption in the race.


Associated Press writers Cliff Brunt and Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis and Caitlin R. King in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.