By The Tablet Staff
PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The roof of a Catholic church in northern Mexico collapsed during Sunday Mass on Oct. 1, killing at least 10 people and injuring more than 60, local authorities said. Rescue workers worked through the night and into Monday morning probing the wreckage looking for survivors and victims.
Police in Tamaulipas state said the collapse occurred inside the Santa Cruz Church in Ciudad Madero, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. About 100 parishioners were inside the church when the roof caved in, according to a state security spokesman, who said 23 of the 60 injured remained hospitalized Monday, with two in serious condition.
Searchers crawled under the roof slabs and officials brought in dogs to help search for possible survivors. Police said National Guard, state police, and state civil defense units, as well as the Red Cross, were involved in the operation. Authorities initially suspected that structural failure caused the collapse, as there was no immediate evidence of an explosion.
The Mexican Council of Bishops issued a statement saying that “we join in prayer at the tragic loss of life and those injured.”
Bishop José Armando Álvarez of the Diocese of Tampico said the roof caved in while parishioners were receiving Communion. The diocese later posted a list of people who had been injured, including a 4-month-old baby, three 5-year-olds, and two 9-year-olds.
The number of young victims — police said three of the dead were children — may have been due to the fact that baptisms were to take place at the church.
“We lament the painful loss of people who were there celebrating the baptism of their children,” Bishop Álvarez said, while at the same time expressing hope.
“From underneath the rubble, thanks to Divine Providence and the work of the rescue teams, people have been pulled out alive!” the diocese wrote in a statement posted on social media accounts. “Let’s keep praying!”
“At this time, the necessary work is being performed to extract the people who are still under the ruble,” Bishop Álvarez said in a taped message. “Today we are living through a very difficult moment.”
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 Monday’s collapse. Ciudad Madero is about 310 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.