Indianapolis, IN Fairgrounds Coliseum Explosion, Oct 1963
Coliseum Explosion Kills 62
3 Members of Kokomo Family Among Victims.
385 Are Injured; 176 Remain in Hospitals
By Dale Burgess
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A gas explosion hurled flames and concrete slabs as large as pianos through a crowd watching an ice show finale last night, killing 62 and injuring 385.
More than nine hours after the 11 p. m. EST blast, authorities from miles around Indianapolis still sorted the dead and dying.
The Red Cross, coroner's office and Civil Defense agreed on the 62 dead figure after thorough checks of the six hospitals, three improvised morgues and numerous funeral homes where bodies were taken.
The injured numbered 385, of which 176 remained hospitalized - many in critical condition. Many victims were charred by the bursts of flame, or crushed under tumbling structural concrete slabs which mushroomed from the explosion.
One of six Holiday on Ice troupes now touring was just winding up its show when the blast occurred. Star performers were off stage and a chorus was performing a gay Dixieland number when the Indianapolis Coliseum was transformed into a scene of horror.
Bodies, many still wrapped in mink, erupted onto the ice. Many other were trapped in tumbling slabs of concrete and shattered bleacher-type seats.
Fire marshals blamed a leaking tank of liquified petroleum gas, being used to heat popcorn poppers under the shattered Section No. 13.
The blast lifted a section of 128 box seats, best in the house, and dumped them on a stretch of 240 bleacher seats just below.
Bodies were thrown high in the air and fell on the ice amid the skating chorus.
The stars of the show "Holiday on Ice" were waiting in the wings to skate out for the finale. It was a glittering production, representing the Mardi Gras, and the band was playing Dixieland jazz.
The band kept playing in the best tradition of show business, and the skaters hurried off the ice to make way for rescue teams. There was no panic as the shocked survivors filed out.
With hundreds of injured pinned under shattered seats and jagged chunks of concrete, the obvious were left lying in pools of blood on the ice. Horribly injured persons lay unattended for what seemed an interminable time as the first few doctors and nurses on the scene did the best they could.
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