ALTOONA, PA—Following the fiery derailment of a 56-car Ringling Bros. circus train Wednesday, hundreds of clowns, somersaulting acrobats, ringmasters on stilts, stampeding giraffes, and monkeys in colorful hats were seen fleeing the accident, which investigators stressed was a very serious matter and in no way funny.
According to officials, at least 13 circus performers have died, with dozens more suffering severe burns as a fire spread through the mile-long train, eventually igniting a fuse that launched a human cannonball 200 feet above the devastating and not-at-all amusing scene.
“Train wrecks are never a laughing matter, and this one is no exception,” police chief Jeffrey Phelps said as several rainbow-striped balls, hula hoops, and half a dozen zebras tumbled from an upended train car behind him. “I personally witnessed three clowns in full makeup yelping and trying to outrun the blaze as they paused to hitch up their bulky oversized trousers and tripped over their big floppy shoes—it was horribly tragic.”
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