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US

Texas A&M students killed, trapped in collapse of bonfire logs

cranes
Cranes are used to lift logs off of several students trapped underneath the bonfire  

November 18, 1999
Web posted at: 9:51 a.m. EST (1451 GMT)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (CNN) -- College students piling logs on a 40-foot-tall unlit bonfire were trapped and at least four were killed early Thursday when the mass of timber collapsed on them at Texas A&M University.

At least 25 other students were injured in "this horrible accident," said university president Ray Bowen.

A bonfire is built each year by A&M students to show their burning desire to beat rival University of Texas in football. The tradition goes back 90 years.

Cranes were summoned in an attempt to lift the heavy logs and find three trapped students. A fourth was freed by rescuers.

"At about 2:30 a.m. the center pole which holds up the bonfire collapsed," said Texas A&M University spokesman Jonathan Krwatz. He said about 50 students were on top of the log pile when it fell.

Bowen said it was not yet clear what caused the collapse. "All of the people who participate in this activity go through required safety training so we'll have to ... analyze what happened to the structure and what caused (the collapse) to occur," he told CNN affiliate KPRC.

University officials said that normally 7,000 to 8,000 logs are piled up to make the bonfire, which is normally built to a height of 55 feet.

The Aggies are set to play Texas on November 26, the day after Thanksgiving.

Texas A&M is located in College Station, a town about 80 miles northwest of Houston.

Relatives seeking more information on the accident can call 888-777-6676.

CNN affiliate KPRC contributed to this report.



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  • Bonfire Emergency Information
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