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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

Mexico church collapse death toll rises to 11

Authorities in northern Mexico say the collapse of a church roof has killed at least 11 people and injured about 60.

At least 10 people died when the roof of a church collapsed during a baptism ceremony in the afternoon of 01 October.

The collapse of a church roof during a service in northern Mexico has killed at least 11 people and injured 60, with no further people believed to be trapped in the wreckage.

State police had initially estimated about 100 people were inside the church in the Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero when it collapsed during a baptism on Sunday, and said approximately 30 parishioners may have been trapped in the rubble when the roof caved in.

But Tamaulipas state Governor Américo Villarreal later said only 70 were believed to have been inside.

That represented a kind of miracle in itself; a parish priest said minutes before the collapse, the main Sunday mass attended by as many as 300 people had just ended and people had exited the church.

The collapse occurred on Sunday at the Santa Cruz church in the Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero, next to the port city of Tampico, just as a mass baptism was being held.

Three of the dead were children, and on the list of people who had been injured were a four-month-old baby, three five-year-olds and two nine-year-olds.

"Unfortunately, the elderly and children were those who suffered the most, the ones who were most trapped, the ones who suffered the most deaths, I think," said Father Pablo Galván, a priest who was just outside in the church parking lot Sunday when the collapse occurred. He had just finished celebrating the main mass.

Describing that moment, Galván said "the roof just simply and plainly collapsed, like an implosion, like when you crush a can".

"It fell, there was no time to do anything. It was like two seconds. We still can't understand what happened," he said.

Questions immediately turned to why the concrete and brick structure failed so suddenly.

Security camera footage from about a block away showed the unusual, gabled roof simply collapsed downward.

The 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 state security spokesman's office said it appeared to be "a structural failure."

But Villarreal said no problems with the church had been reported previously.

"It was over 50 years old, it was here functioning and operating with no problem, with no sign of any defect," he said.

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 may have left enough space to have saved some lives.

Building collapses are common in Mexico during earthquakes, but the National Seismological Service did not report any seismic activity strong enough to cause such damage at the time of the collapse.

Nor was there any immediate indication of an explosion.

Ciudad Madero is about 500km south of Brownsville, Texas. Tamaulipas is known for drug cartel violence, but Ciudad Madero is in the southern part of the state near neighbouring Veracruz state and has been less touched by the violence.


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