church roof collapse
NBC News/

The roof of a church collapsed in northern Mexico during a Sunday mass, killing 10 people and injuring about 60, according to authorities as searchers searched the wreckage for survivors and other victims. Officials said that approximately 30 parishioners were believed to be trapped in the rubble when the roof caved in.

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 when the roof collapsed. The state security spokesperson’s office said that 10 people had been confirmed dead from the collapse, which was likely caused by a “structural failure.”

Tamaulipas state police said units of the National Guard, the state police, the state civil defense office and the Red Cross were involved in the operation. The Mexican Council of Bishops issued a statement saying: “We join in prayer at the tragic loss of life and those injured.” Bishop José 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 because baptisms were to occur at the church.

“From underneath the rubble, thanks to divine providence and the work of the rescue teams, people have been pulled out alive!” Alvarez’s diocese wrote in a statement posted on its social media accounts. “Let’s keep praying!” He also called on anyone with 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 footage from about a block away showed the unusual, gabled roof collapsed downward. The walls didn’t appear to have been blown outward, nor was there any indication of an explosion or anything other than structural failure.

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

A video distributed by the state civil defense office showed the outer edges of the roof propped up by short wooden blocks. It also showed initial efforts to lift off parts of the collapsed roof closer to the ground, in the center of the church, with a crane. But the office said the efforts to lift roof sections were abandoned because a chunk of the now-crumbling slab might fall back and endanger any survivors.

The National Seismological Service didn’t report any seismic activity strong enough to cause such damage at the time of the collapse.

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