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Ohio State Fair to reopen after fatal ride accident

The Ohio State Fair will open one day after a man was killed and seven other people were injured when a thrill ride broke apart, but the rides will not be running until they all are deemed safe.

Video captured by a bystander at the fair on Wednesday evening shows the Fire Ball ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashes into something and part of the ride flies off. Screams are heard as passengers are thrown to the ground.

"The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Republican governor John Kasich.

Officials said the man who was killed was one of several people who were thrown to the ground when the ride malfunctioned. They have not released his name. Ohio State Medical Centre said three of the injured were being treated there. Two of them were in critical condition, the hospital said.

Officials did not know what caused the ride to break apart, saying the investigation was ongoing.

"Of course we want to get to the bottom of this," Mr Kasich said, noting that there could be things to be learned that could help other fairs and amusement parks. "Make no mistake about it, it's a very, very sad night for all of us."

Kaylie Bellomy was in the next group waiting to board the Fire Ball.

"It was going for a minute and it was at its highest point and I saw somebody fall on the ride, and then a minute later the whole like row of seats fell off and hit the ground," she told TV reporters.

"Everybody was running. I got ran over trying to get out of the way."

A company providing rides at the Ohio State Fair this year describes the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill ride".

The accident prompted California State Fair officials to shut down the Fire Ball ride there. Barry Schaible, an inspector with a company hired by the fair, told reporters in Sacramento, "We shut down the ride immediately, unloaded it and it's closed right now."

On its website, Amusements of America said that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball, which was manufactured by KMG, had become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company's description of the ride said it swings riders 40 feet above the midway, while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

Ride inspectors did not notice anything out of the ordinary when they conducted their inspections and cleared the Fire Ball for passengers, said director of agriculture David Daniels. All of the rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure they are set up the way the manufacturer intended, he said.

"We started out today with 11 rides that did not open because the inspection work was not done on them," said Mr Daniels. Four rides will not be operating because they do not meet the mechanical test, he said.

Officials said none of the rides would be open until they are all fully inspected.

"Our hearts are heavy for the families of those involved in last night's tragic accident," the fair said early on Thursday morning in a statement posted on its Twitter page. "We have shut down all rides until the state has inspected each and every ride again and deemed them to be safe."

The Ohio State Fair, which is one of the largest state fairs in the US, runs until August 6.

AP

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