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02 October 2023

At least 10 people dead after church roof collapses in Mexico

02 October 2023

At least 10 people are dead and around 60 injured after the roof of a church collapsed in Mexico during Sunday Mass.

Around 30 parishioners were believed to have been trapped in the rubble when the roof caved in, officials said. Searchers crawled under the roof slabs and officials brought in dogs to help search for possible survivors.

The Tamaulipas state police said about 100 people were in the church at the time of the collapse.

The state security spokesman’s office said early on Monday that 10 people had been confirmed dead from the collapse, which it described as likely being caused by a structural failure”. The office said 23 of the 60 injured remain in hospital, with two in serious condition.

Tamaulipas state police said units of the National Guard, the state police and state civil defence office and the Red Cross were involved in the operation.

The Mexican Council of Bishops issued a statement saying that “we join in prayer at the tragic loss of life and those injured”.

Bishop Jose Armando Alvarez of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tampico said the roof caved in while parishioners were receiving communion at the Santa Cruz church in the Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero, next to the port city of Tampico.

The diocese later posted a list of people who had been injured, including a four-month-old baby, three five-year-olds and two nine-year-olds.

The number of young victims – police officers said three of the dead were children – may have been due to the fact that baptisms were to take place at the church.

“We lament the painful loss of people who were there celebrating the baptism of their children,” Mr Alvarez wrote.

At the same time, there were signs of hope.

“From underneath the rubble, thanks to Divine Providence and the work of the rescue teams, people have been pulled out alive!” Mr Alvarez’s diocese wrote in a statement posted on its social media accounts. “Let’s keep praying!”

He also called on anyone who had wood to donate to bring it to the church, apparently to shore up the roof while rescue teams crawled inside.

Photos published by local media showed what appeared to be a concrete and brick structure, with parts of the roof fallen almost to the ground. Security camera footage from showed the unusual, gabled roof simply collapsed downwards.

Walls did not appear to have been blown outward, nor was there any indication of an explosion, or anything other than simple structural failure.

The roof appeared to be made of relatively thin poured concrete, and photos distributed by state authorities showed the roof slab resting on the top of pews in some parts of the church. That left open the possibility there were air spaces for any survivors.

“At this time, the necessary work is being performed to extract the people who are still under the ruble,” Mr Alvarez said in a taped message. “Today we are living through a very difficult moment.”

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