2nd October 2023 – (Mexico City) During a Sunday Mass, a church roof collapsed in northern Mexico, resulting in an undetermined number of casualties. Authorities believe that approximately 30 parishioners remain trapped under the rubble, out of the estimated 100 people present at the time of the incident.
Tamaulipas state police have reported that rescue efforts are currently underway, with units from the National Guard, state police, state civil defence office, and the Red Cross at the scene. The exact number of casualties has not been confirmed at this time. The Mexican Council of Bishops expressed their condolences in a statement, offering prayers for the lives lost and those injured.
The tragic incident occurred at the Santa Cruz church in Ciudad Madero, a Gulf coast city adjacent to the port city of Tampico. Bishop José Armando Alvarez of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tampico explained that the roof collapsed while parishioners were receiving communion. In a statement posted on social media, the diocese expressed gratitude for the rescue teams who have managed to pull people out alive from beneath the rubble. They urged continued prayer for the ongoing rescue efforts.
To aid in stabilizing the damaged structure, the bishop called upon anyone with available wood to donate it to the church. The hope is to reinforce the roof while rescue teams continue their search.
Images released by local media depict a structure made of concrete and brick, with sections of the roof collapsed near the ground. The roof itself appears to be constructed of poured concrete, and photos distributed by state authorities show it resting on top of pews in certain areas of the church. This raises the possibility of air pockets that could potentially house survivors.
While building collapses in Mexico are often associated with earthquakes, the National Seismological Service has not reported any seismic activity significant enough to cause such damage during the time of the incident. Likewise, there is no immediate indication of an explosion.
Ciudad Madero, located approximately 310 miles (500 kilometres) south of Brownsville, Texas, is situated in the state of Tamaulipas. This region is known for drug cartel violence, although Ciudad Madero has experienced less of this violence compared to other parts of the state. The proximity of the city to neighbouring Veracruz state has contributed to its relative stability.