Multiple Injuries Reported after Fireworks Veer into Crowd at Utah Stadium

A view of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show over the Empire State Building in New York City, as seen from Hoboken, N.J. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
A view of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show over the Empire State Building in New York City, as seen from Hoboken, N.J. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
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Multiple Injuries Reported after Fireworks Veer into Crowd at Utah Stadium

A view of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show over the Empire State Building in New York City, as seen from Hoboken, N.J. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
A view of the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks show over the Empire State Building in New York City, as seen from Hoboken, N.J. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Malfunctioning fireworks veered into the stands at a crowded Utah football stadium and struck members of the audience during a Fourth of July celebration, sending up to six people to the hospital, according to authorities and the event organizer.

The accident occurred during the opening ceremonies of the Stadium of Fire show, the flagship event at Provo's annual Freedom Festival at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Brigham Young University, The AP reported.

Organizers halted the show for about 15 minutes while injured audience members received medical attention, said Freedom Festival spokesperson Emory Cook.

Six people were taken to the hospital, Cook said, but the number struck by fireworks and the severity of their injuries was not immediately available.

The cause of the mishap — which involved fireworks shot off inside the stadium as several jets passed overhead — is under investigation by local authorities.

Videos posted on social media show individual fireworks veering off from the cluster sent into the sky over the field and landing among rows of spectators in the stands at the outdoor arena. About 45,000 people attended the sold-out show, Cook said.

“Definitely a firework malfunctioned, but we're still trying to figure out how that happened,” Cook said.

Fire department personnel and paramedics were on scene when the show started and were able to reach the injured audience members within a minute, said Provo Fire and Rescue spokesperson Jeanie Atherton.

She said her department transported only one person to the hospital but that other victims might have gone by personal vehicles.

The fireworks that malfunctioned inside the stadium were relatively small compared to the large pyrotechnics that are used during the show’s finale, Cook said. Those larger fireworks are kept outside the stadium, he said.

Following the accident, the BYU Police Department allowed organizers to proceed with the event, which featured the Jonas Brothers, KUTV reported.



Moonlit Scramble across the Sand for Türkiye Booming Baby Turtle Population

Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP
Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP
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Moonlit Scramble across the Sand for Türkiye Booming Baby Turtle Population

Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP
Baby loggerhead sea turtles' first challenge in life is a wobbly dash across the sand. KEMAL ASLAN / AFP

The baby loggerhead sea turtles emerged from their eggshells and began their first challenge in life: a wobbly dash across the sand to the moonlit waters of Türkiye’s Mediterranean coast -- sometimes with a helping hand from volunteers.
It is a perilous journey into the unknown for the sea turtles as only about one in 1,000 hatchlings will survive to adulthood.
Some 25 years later, the females will return to the beach where they were born to lay their own eggs.
Despite grave threats from humans and predators such as birds, crabs and ants, protection measures are bearing fruit on Türkiye's southern coast.
In Manavgat, a tourist hotspot nestled in the foothills of mountains and prized for its golden sands and stunning waterfall, the number of nests has doubled from last year to 700.
A group of volunteers holds vigil around the clock along the 10-kilometer (six-mile) coastline, located east of the local tourism capital of Antalya.
It is a major breeding area for the globally endangered loggerheads -- also known as caretta caretta -- which are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) red list of threatened species.
"Our average estimate this year is around 60,000 eggs; 30,000 of them will become babies; only 30 of them will come back years later" to breed, Seher Akyol, founding president of DEKAFOK marine conservation center, told AFP.
Red lights
Türkiye's southern coast is home to 21 official nesting areas -- eight of them in Antalya alone.
Protection measures have been put in place such as limiting the use of light and the speed of sea vessels.
Many beaches are declared protected areas and are off-limits from 8 pm to 8 am.
Manavgat, though, is not one of them, so volunteers have taken on the task of protecting the breeding nests.
Akyol's volunteers, including young students from all over Türkiye and abroad, mark the nests, framing them with sticks and keeping the eggs protected from sunbathers.
At night, they patrol beaches, dig in nests with their bare hands and, donning white gloves, help baby turtles break from their shells and crawl to the sea.
Local officials also support volunteer initiatives.
Manavgat's mayor, Niyazi Nefi Kara, has placed red lights on roadsides along the coast. Signs that read "Attention! Caretta Nesting Area" dot the beach.
Under the environment law, anyone who damages sea turtles and their nests can be fined 387,141 liras ($11,700).
Kara said his office takes advice from "scientists and environmentalists" on protecting the turtles.
"After all, we need to learn how to live in harmony with nature," he said.
Akyol added that "people and caretta caretta can live together".
Songul Sert, 33, who was picnicking with her family around a wooden table near the beach, said "we do our best so as not to usurp their living space" with help from the signs.
Another local, Hasan Gulec, said that previously a lack of signs meant that "nobody knew where they were breeding, so anyone could walk on nests".
However, an AFP team saw some hotels along the beach still using the bright white lights that anger environmentalists.
-Climate change-
Loggerheads, whose overall numbers are unknown, can live for up to 80 years. Their weight ranges from 90-180 kilograms (200-400 pounds) and they can reach 1.2 meters (four feet) in length.
The small percentage of hatchlings that return to the beach to breed is why "they are endangered and need to be protected," Professor Mehmet Cengiz Deval of Akdeniz University's faculty of fisheries told AFP.
Loggerhead sea turtles are found primarily in subtropical and temperate regions of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in the Mediterranean Sea.
According to IUCN, the Mediterranean loggerhead is considered of "least concern", though the species remains vulnerable globally.
Climate change is also a factor that threatens the species.
The sex of hatchlings is determined by the temperature of the sand: cooler temperatures produce males and warmer ones produce females.
High temperatures from July onwards means that "most of the babies are females," Deval said.
"If this trend continues, in 30-40 years females will be the majority and there will be no male partners for them to breed. This is the biggest danger."
Akyol, who dreams of building a rehabilitation center to treat injured turtles, cannot hide her excitement each time she sends them off to the water.
"I cannot forget their last look before meeting with the water," she said. "It's as if they show how grateful they are."