At least nine people killed after church roof collapsed during baptisms
Authorities say three children were among the dead and around 50 people were injured following the collapse during Mass.
At least nine people have been killed, three of them children, after the roof of a church collapsed during a Mass in northern Mexico on Sunday.
The Tamaulipas state security spokesman’s office confirmed the death toll, saying around 50 people had been injured with the likely cause of the collapse “a structural failure”.
Around 30 parishioners were believed to have been trapped in the rubble in the Gulf coast city of Ciudad Madero with dogs brought in to help the search.
Tamaulipas state police said about 100 people were in the church with several baptisms due to take place.
The Mexican Council of Bishops issued a statement saying “we join in prayer at the tragic loss of life and those injured”.
Bishop Jose Armando Alvarez, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tampico, said the roof caved in while parishioners were receiving communion at the Santa Cruz church.
He said: “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.
“We lament the painful loss of people who were there celebrating the baptism of their children.”
In a message posted on social media, the bishop’s diocese 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!”
The diocese posted a list of about 50 people who had been taken to hospital which included a four-month-old baby, three children aged five and two nine-year-olds.
Video distributed by the state civil defence 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 with a crane, but the office said efforts to lift roof sections were abandoned because of the danger that a chunk of the now-crumbling slab might fall back and endanger any survivors.
The video described how officials had reverted to manual rescue efforts, sending rescuers under the slab with wood props or hydraulic jacks to reach those trapped underneath.
The civil defence office rescue dogs did not initially appear to detect signs of survivors so an older method was implemented that had been used in past earthquakes of sending rescue teams into the rubble to shout and listen for signs of any response.