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US football stadium roof collapses under snow load

Engineers have been called in to investigate a roof collapse at the Metrodome stadium in Minnesota on Saturday night.

Stadium workers have started the cleanup and repair after a storm brought over 400mm of snow and gusts of up to 48 kph which caused the collapse of the teflon-coated fibreglass roof. At least three panels have been damaged in the collapsed which occurred at 5am on Sunday morning, there were no injuries.

Stadium owners the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (MSFC) are now coordinating with Birdair, the manufacturer and installer of the material, on a plan to fix the roof.

The roof has now fallen four times, all due to heavy snow, since the stadium opened nearly 30 years ago. But the last time was 27 years ago - when a collapse in April 1983 forced postponement of a baseball game. MSFC chairman Roy Terwilliger said this was the worst of the collapses.

“This just came very fast. It was heavily loaded, and the wind was just unbelievable,” said director of facilities and engineering Steve Maki, who halted the snowmelt process and called his crew down from the roof Saturday night out of concern for their safety. “It almost knocked me on my rear end.”

The heat inside was turned up, and hot air was pumped between the roof’s layers, but that wasn’t enough to keep it from giving out.

An NFL game between the Minnosota Vikings and the New York Jets has been rescheduled as a result of the collapse.

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