Chinese acrobat falls to her death during mid-air performance with husband

A fatal accident occurred during an aerial silks show in China, causing shock and anger on social media over the absence of safety precautions.
The performer, with the surname Sun, was doing a high-altitude act with her husband on Saturday in a village near Suzhou city in central Anhui province. She fell to the stage and was rushed to hospital, but she did not survive her injuries, according to a statement from the Tongqiao district government on Monday.

A video of the incident online showed the couple being lifted by a crane above a large outdoor stage. The man had two pieces of fabric hanging from the crane around his arms. The woman was holding on to him as they swung in the air. She tried to do a move where she wrapped her arms around his head and hung off him. But she slipped and dropped to the hard stage, while the crowd screamed. Her husband tried to grab her with his legs but missed, the video showed.

The tragic scene outraged Chinese social media users. Many wondered why the woman did not have any safety belt on, and why there was no safety net or cushion on the ground. Some demanded more regulations for the acrobatic industry and better protection for performers.

“It’s really risky to do this kind of acrobatic show in the air. They should at least have a safety net below to prevent (the performer) from falling,” said a comment on Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter in China. “No matter how skilled the performers are, there will always be errors. How can there be no safety measures?”

The Tongqiao government said in a statement on Tuesday that authorities had determined the incident was accidental.

The performance was organized by a local farm business owner, who hired the Anhui Yaxi Performing Arts Media Company to put on the show, the statement said.

The investigation found that the company did not get approval from authorities before the show, and did not provide necessary safety precautions and emergency plans during the show. The company also broke the rules by using a crane in the show, it said.

The company has agreed to pay compensation to the family of the acrobat, and will face penalties according to regulations, the statement said.

China’s Acrobats Association said in a statement on Sunday that it was “heartbroken and stunned by the tragedy” and urged acrobatic groups and performers to be more careful about safety measures.

A state-run news website, The Paper, reported that a host of the show had told the audience that the performers did not have any safety measures on them to make the show look “real.”

The report said that the female acrobat had been married to her husband for over 10 years and had two children.

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