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File Photo: Aerialist Nik Wallenda walks a tightrope during a promotional event in midtown Manhattan, with the Empire State Building behind him, in New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid(reuters_tickers)
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - Acrobat Nik Wallenda was rehearsing an eight-person pyramid stunt on the high wire at a Florida circus when five performers fell from about 20 to 25 feet (60-75 meters) on Wednesday, authorities said.
Wallenda was not injured, but five people were hospitalised with injuries from the accident that occurred during a practice of the final act for Circus Sarasota, said Pedro Reis, CEO of the Circus Arts Conservatory presenting the show.
"Accidents do happen as you know," he told reporters at a news conference, noting that no one was killed or crippled. "The show must go on."
He said one performer appeared to have lost his balance on the high-wire. Wallenda was anchoring the rear of the pyramid and did not fall.
Five performers were transported to hospitals, Sarasota County Fire Chief Michael Regnier said.
Wallenda's feats have included high-wire walks above Niagara Falls, between two Chicago skyscrapers while blindfolded and across Arizona's Grand Canyon.
Wallenda, the self-proclaimed "King of the High Wire," is part of the seventh generation of the famed Flying Wallenda family of acrobats. His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, slipped and fell to his death from a high wire in Puerto Rico in 1978.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Dan Grebler)