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Woman dies after circus plunge

Garcia performed aerial stunts on ropes and silks.

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LONDON, England -- A circus performer who carried out aerial stunts on ropes and silks suspended from the ceiling fell more than 20 feet to her death in front of a crowd of 800 people.

Eva Garcia, 38, was just starting her act at Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth, England, on Friday night when the accident happened.

Members of staff who saw the incident said she was descending from the rigging area in the roof above the circus ring when she appeared to lose her grip on the wire above her head and plunged to the ground.

The experienced performer, who came from a circus family, was taken to the town's James Paget Hospital, where she later died.

Peter Astle, from Norfolk's environmental health department, inspected the scene. He removed a piece of equipment called a "descender" -- used to carry performers down from the rigging -- for further examination.

Circus owners Peter and Christine Jay paid tribute to Garcia, from Birmingham, saying she was "a fantastic artist."

Mrs. Jay told the UK Press Association it was not clear what had happened.

"We believe that she had actually got on it the descender and was coming down on it. But it just happened so quickly, it's just so sketchy."

Mrs. Jay said the performance last night was meant to have been a showcase of the best of the acts that had appeared with the circus over recent years.

"We're all friends and have all worked together before -- it's a very close show. We all go out together. We are just all in shock at the moment," she said.

"She was very experienced. She started in the circus at the age of seven. She was so fit and strong -- such a fantastic artist.

"All the artists are very upset about it. It's a very close knit company. We are going to cancel the shows over the weekend to deal with the shock and then resume on Monday."

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