Crowd sees acrobat fall to his death

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The Independent Online
An acrobat plunged to his death at a circus in Blackpool yesterday afternoon, watched by hundreds of holidaymakers.

The performer was using 8ft metal rings as part of his high-wire act at the Blackpool Tower Circus when he slipped and fell, said police. He was pronounced dead at the scene following his fall at 4.30pm.

"The circus was packed when this happened. People were obviously upset but no one was treated for shock that we know of," said a police spokesman.

In the act, the finale of the performance, the man and his partner used the giant rings to revolve at speed while balanced on the high wire . It was only the acrobat's second performance for the circus.

As the audience clapped, the rings went faster. It was at this stage that the man fell. The rings have been exmained by the Health and Safety Executive.

Police were withholding the name of the acrobat last night, as they attempted to contact the man's relatives, who were said to be away from their home.

"We understand he comes from a circus family outside this area," a spokesman said.

Steve Brailey, the general manager of Blackpool Tower, said: "This is a terrible accident. Our hearts go our to this man's family. High wire acts are dangerous but this man was highly experienced."

The circus normally runs throughout the summer but this year the Tower's owners, First Leisure, decided to put on a special festive series of performances. The circus ring, a popular tourist attraction, is directly beneath the tower.

The last serious accident to happen to a circus acrobat occurred two years ago, when a woman fell from the high wire at a Circus King show in Scarborough. She was saved by her fiance who caught her.