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Thursday, 8 August, 2002, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Aquarium visitors thrown in shark tank
Shark
No serious injuries were reported in the accident
A party of adults and children on a behind-the-scenes tour at a New Orleans aquarium got closer to some of the exhibits than intended when a footbridge collapsed, pitching some of them into a shark tank.

Ten people fell into the water when the platform - normally used by keepers to feed the fish - gave way.


I was just praying none of the sharks got agitated ... I mean, they got sharks in there bigger than me

Dan Rooney

But the tank's inhabitants - including nurse and sand tiger sharks - had just been fed and kept their distance while the visitors were helped to safety.

Two of the group were treated in hospital for minor cuts and bruises, said Melissa Lee, spokeswoman for the Audobon Aquarium of the Americas.

Wednesday's accident happened while donors to the aquarium were on an after-hours tour.

It was not immediately known what caused the steel platform - which is not usually open to the public - to collapse. Apart from the sharks, the 400,000-gallon (1.5 million-litre) tank is home to turtles, redfish and stingrays.

One of the spectators, Dan Rooney, said he had searched frantically for his two-year old grandchild before seeing someone hand the toddler to another person on a stable part of the footbridge.

"I was just praying none of the sharks got agitated from all of the splashing and everything. I mean, they got sharks in there bigger than me," he said.

Aquarium managers have launched an inquiry.

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Dan Rooney, accident victim
"All of a sudden right in the middle the catwalk just split"
See also:

06 Sep 01 | Americas
25 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
10 May 01 | Science/Nature
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