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🚨At Least 62 Killed in Indiana Coliseum Explosion

Oct. 31, 1963 - At least 62 persons were killed and hundreds were injured tonight in an explosion during the opening performance of the Holiday on Ice revue at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum. Fire Chief William Lynch said he had counted 62 bodies removed from the shattered remains of bleachers and structural concrete. The state police said there were unconfirmed reports of five more dead. Many of the victims were children. The injured were being taken to several Indianapolis hospitals in taxis, ambulances, cars, and buses. Deputy Sheriff Bernard Gohmann said there were indications that a gas explosion had occurred under a refreshment stand beneath the seats. After the blast, rows of bodies were lined up under blankets on the ice. Other rows were started outside the building in a drizzling rain. “They went up in the air like flies,” said a woman who survived the explosion. Methodist Hospital, near the scene, was quickly jammed with at least 40 injured. Stretchers packed the hospital halls. Leon Eaton of Osgood, Ind., a spectator sitting on the opposite side of the rink, said flames shot 30 feet in the air. He went on: “One whole section was ripped out, bleachers and everything. There were people lying there halfway across the ice in pools of blood. There was a big boom, just like a charge of dynamite.” Said Robert Young, assistant manager of the Coliseum: “I was about to go out a southside door when I heard a terrible explosion. I flew through the air and almost did a swan dive onto the hood of a car 30 or 35 feet out in the parking lot. You have to be hurt, Bob, I told myself, but I stood up and realized I was all right. I rushed back in and immediately realized it was terrible.” Young seemed to be in a state of shock as he spoke. “I always thought I was a hero. I pulled a pilot out of a plane during the war, and he had an arm off. But I couldn’t take this. I carried out four or five bodies that had blankets over them. But when they ran out of blankets, I just couldn’t take any more. Just thank God it wasn’t a Saturday or Sunday. There would have been hundreds of kids in there.”

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