At least nine people – including three children – have been killed and dozens remain trapped after the roof of a church came crashing down during Sunday mass in northern Mexico.
Officials said 40 people were injured and taken to hospital for treatment – including a four-month-old baby, three five-year-olds and two nine-year-olds – while 30 other worshippers remain unaccounted for.
The state security spokesman’s office said the collapse of the roof was likely caused by “a structural failure”.
Units of the national guard, state police, state civil defence office and Red Cross are at the scene.
Rescuers have been working through the night to dig out survivors believed to be under the rubble.
Bishop Jose Armando Alvarez said the roof collapsed 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.
He also called on anyone who had wood to donate to bring it to the church, to shore up the roof while rescue teams trawled the ruins.
Specially trained dogs have also been sent into the rubble to find survivors.
“At this time, the necessary work is being performed to extract the people who are still under the rubble,” he said.
“Today we are living through a very difficult moment.”
A statement from the Diocese of Tampico on social media said: “From underneath the rubble, thanks to Divine Providence and the work of the rescue teams, people have been pulled out alive! Let’s keep praying!”
Police said the number of young victims may have been due to the fact that baptisms were due to take place at the church.
“We join in prayer at the tragic loss of life and those injured,” the Mexican Council of Bishops said in a statement.
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. There was also no indication of an explosion.
Written by: Newsroom