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Two injured in Delaware pumpkin cannon incident

08 November 2016

A woman suffered critical injuries after a cannon used to launch pumpkins into the air exploded at a large outdoor competition, Delaware State Police said. A man was also hurt with non-life threatening injuries. Both had been struck by debris from the explosion. The incident occurred at the Punkin Chunkin Contest in Bridgeville, 30 miles south of Dover, Delaware. 

The competition involves contestants launching pumpkins from homemade contraptions, many of which are air-powered with long cannons and transported on the back of trucks.

Police are still investigating what happened. For unknown reasons, they said a trap door where pumpkins are loaded into the cannon "separated upon the launch of the pumpkin." The door and other parts were blown into the air before striking the woman in the head and face.

The injuries happened despite organisers using protective nets and placing spectators 25 metres away from the pumpkin launchers.

Punkin Chunkin dates back to 1986. It had been cancelled for the past two years because of problems finding insurance.

In 2014, a local farmer had stopped making his property available for the contest because a volunteer was injured in an ATV accident and filed a lawsuit. The suit was later dismissed. Organisers for the 2016 contest said an insurance policy was in place to protect the landowner.

Before 2013, the event had been held annually, drawing up to 20,000 people.

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