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Father, Daughter Killed, 32 Injured In New Hampshire Circus Tent Collapse

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A father and daughter were killed and about 32 people injured when a circus tent collapsed in New Hampshire during a wind storm, officials said on Tuesday, as they began an investigation of why the show went on in the face of a severe weather warning.

State Fire Marshal Bill Degnan told reporters some of the people who were injured in the incident Monday were in serious condition, although he said the precise count of the wounded was unclear because many people drove themselves to hospitals.

"Unfortunately there was a father and daughter that perished in this incident," Degnan told reporters by the site of the collapse, in the town of Lancaster, about 90 miles (145 km) north of the state capital of Concord. The names of the dead were are being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Degnan said about 100 people were inside the tent for a circus performance that began at about 5:30 p.m. EDT, roughly 17 minutes after the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning. He said it was not clear why the circus went ahead with the show despite the warning and that circus officials were waiting for advice from their lawyers before responding to state inquiries.

"It's really the responsibility of the show to monitor conditions," Degnan said. "We don't know why they were going on at that time and what they knew."

Circus owner Walker International Events said on its website it had canceled a performance Tuesday night in Bradford, Vermont. Circus officials did not immediately respond to a call for comment on Tuesday.

Governor Maggie Hassan urged witnesses to call the fire marshal's office to describe what they saw.

Farther south, Massachusetts officials on Tuesday reported intense thunderstorms had torn through the state's southeast including the Cape Cod beach resort area, downing trees and leaving about 130,000 homes and businesses in southeastern Massachusetts and neighboring Rhode Island without power, according to utilities Eversource and National Grid.

(Reporting by Ted Siefer in Lancaster, New Hampshire; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)

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