Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Church roof collapses in Tamaulipas, leaves 11 dead and dozens injured

The roof of a church in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas, collapsed on Sunday, killing 10 people and injuring 60 others, authorities said. One of the hospitalized victims, an 18 year-old woman, died on Monday morning.

The tragedy occurred in the mid-afternoon during Mass at the Santa Cruz church in the Unidad Nacional neighborhood of Ciudad Madero, a city on the Gulf of Mexico in southern Tamaulipas.

Ciudad Madero church accident
The roof collapsed during Sunday mass, when approximately 100 people were inside. (CORTESÍA PROTECCIÓN CIVIL DE TAMAULIPASCUARTOSCURO.COM)

Three children were among those killed when the roof caved in, trapping some 30 parishioners beneath rubble. Tamaulipas police said that approximately 100 people were in the church, where baptisms were taking place.

A structural failure is believed to have caused the collapse of the roof, according to the office of the state security spokesperson. Footage from a nearby security camera showed the gabled roof and at least one wall of the brick church collapsing. The church was reportedly built about 50 years ago.

The injured were transferred to several local hospitals for treatment. Twenty-three people remained in hospital early Monday morning, two of whom had serious injuries, authorities said.

A four-month-old baby, three children aged five and two 9-year-olds were among the injured, according to a list posted online by the Ciudad Madero municipal government.

Rescue workers in Ciudad Madero
Rescue workers trying to help victims trapped in the rubble. (Protección Civil Tamaulipas/X)

Citizens, some armed with shovels and pickaxes, rushed to the aid of those trapped beneath rubble and emergency services personnel arrived at the church shortly after the roof collapsed. The newspaper Milenio reported an initial scene of “chaos” due to the large number of people trying to help.

Parts of the concrete roof slab came to a rest on top of pews, a situation that may have allowed spaces of air where some people were trapped.

Assisted by police dogs and infrared cameras, the search for victims and survivors continued into the night until all the missing were accounted for. The army, the navy, the National Guard, state police, the Red Cross and Civil Protection personnel all contributed to the efforts.

Tampico Bishop José Armando Álvarez Cano mourned “the painful loss” of parishioners celebrating the baptism of their children.

Roof collapse in Tamaulipas
The governor of Tamaulipas has said experts will determine the cause of the roof collapse. (Protección Civil Tamaulipas/X)

“We pray to the Lord for their eternal rest and the comfort of their families. We remain in prayer for the quick recovery of the people who have been rescued,” the bishop said in a statement.

Tamaulipas Governor Américo Villareal arrived at the church on Sunday night and told reporters that he was shocked and saddened by the tragedy. He said the cause of the roof collapse would be determined by experts.

Villareal said he had spoken to the church’s priest and was informed that the roof was waterproofed some years ago, but no other work had been done.

The governor said that the families of the deceased could count on the “unconditional” support of the state government.

Ángel Vargas, the priest officiating the Mass, said that the tragedy was “unfathomable.”

“They came to seek heaven for the little ones and found eternity. What I want is for the families to be at peace,” he said.

With reports from Milenio, El Universal and AP 

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