Photo: Loved ones witnessing victims under roof debris
by Kristen Ku
BELIZE CITY, Tues. Oct. 3, 2023
At least 11 persons are dead and 60 injured this week following a devastating collapse of the roof of a Santa Cruz church, which is located in Ciudad Madero, just north of the Mexican port city of Tampico, on Sunday, October 1.
The baptism Sunday service, which was being attended by a reported 100 individuals, mostly baptism candidates and their families, was interrupted when the church roof caved in.
The sound of the collapse, according to witnesses, was like an implosion, leaving behind gray dust in the air.
Emergency services quickly arrived on the scene, as frantic efforts were made to rescue the dozens trapped under the rubble, with the help of local residents, rescue dogs, and even two cranes which were seen being used to search for victims for two days afterwards.
The baptism service followed the main mass at which there had just been nearly double the number of attendees, which could have resulted in an even greater catastrophe.
According to the governor of Tamaulipas, initially ten persons were found dead, with one 18-year-old woman being hospitalized but later succumbing to her injuries.
Three of the 11 persons who died were children, ages 4 months, 5 years and 9 years, all of whom were present to be baptized.
Father Pablo Galván, who had just finished the main mass outside in the church parking lot when the incident occurred, shared with ABC News, “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.”
Currently, there are 13 persons who are still hospitalized, two of whom are in serious condition.
The cause of the collapse remains uncertain at this stage. However, local authorities and the Mayor of Ciudad Madero believe that there was a structural failure of the 50-year-old building, particularly because nearby security cameras which recorded the footage do not indicate any signs of an explosion or foul play.
The remaining debris was later seen on top of church pews, while other portions of the structure, such as around the altar, remained undamaged, sparing the life of people such as Father Ángel Vargas, the priest conducting the baptism service.
Amandala reached out to the Belizean ambassador in Mexico, Oscar Arnold, who commented, “The collapse is very tragic, and prayers must go out to the affected families and congregation.”
He added that, although structural issues were initially suspected, the authorities are also considering the recent installation of air-conditioning units, introduced to counter Mexico’s heatwaves, as a potential contributing factor to the roof’s collapse.
Our thoughts go out to the families of everyone who passed during the tragic incident.