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Stage collapse at a campaign rally in northern Mexico kills at least 9 people and injures 121

Stage collapse at a campaign rally in northern Mexico kills at least 9 people and injures 121
3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago Thursday, May 23 2024 May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024 2:28 PM May 23, 2024 in News - Mexico
Source: apnews.com
Security forces cordon off the area after a stage collapsed due to a gust of wind during an event attended by presidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez in San Pedro Garza García, on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed that four people were killed and at least a dozen injured. (AP Photo/Alberto Lopez)

SAN PEDRO GARZA GARCIA, Mexico (AP) — The collapse of a stage in heavy winds at a campaign rally in northern Mexico has killed at least nine people, including a child, and injured 121, the governor of Nuevo Leon state said Thursday.

The collapse occurred during an event Wednesday evening attended by presidential long-shot candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who ran to escape. Videos of the collapse on social media showed people screaming, running away and climbing out from under metal polls.

The victims "will not be alone in this tragedy," Máynez told reporters Wednesday night, adding that he had suspended upcoming campaign events.

Afterward, soldiers, police and other officials roamed the grounds of the park where the event took place while many nearby sat stunned and haunted by the tragedy.

In a video message, Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Garcia, a leading member of Máynez's Citizens Movement party, said 94 of the injured were treated and released, but that 27 remained hospitalized. State health authorities said a lot of the injuries involved skull fractures. Garcia said several victims were undergoing surgery and some appeared to be in critical condition.

Garcia said the accident occurred "in a matter of seconds."

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said most of the injured were women. He absolved Máynez's Citizens Movement party — widely viewed as an implicit ally of López Obrador's Morena party — of blame even before investigations were carried out.

"We know that they are not to blame," the president said Thursday. Condolences poured in from across Mexico, including from the other two presidential candidates.

Máynez wrote in his social media accounts that he went to a hospital after the accident in the wealthy suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, near the city of Monterrey. He said he was in good condition.

"The only important thing at this point is to care for the victims of the accident," he wrote.

Videos of the accident showed Máynez waving his arm as the crowd chanted his name. But then he looked up to see a giant screen and metal structure toppling toward him. He ran rapidly toward the back of the stage to avoid the falling structure, which appeared to consist of relatively light framework pieces as well as what appeared to be a screen with the party's logo and theater-style lights.

In a Facebook post, Alejandra Gamez Escalera wrote that her father and a stepbrother, 11, died in the collapse. She said they had gone to the event to hear a band that was scheduled to play at the campaign rally.

"If only you had stayed home and not gone to the event, none of this would have happened," Gamez Escalera wrote.

Máynez has been running third in polls in the presidential race, trailing both front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Morena Party and opposition coalition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez. Both sent their condolences, and Sheinbaum canceled a campaign event in nearby Monterrey the next day "in solidarity" with victims and their loved ones.

"My condolences and prayers with the families of the dead, and my wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured," wrote Gálvez in a social media post.

The accident happened at the height of campaign season, with many events held this week and next in anticipation of the June 2 presidential, state and municipal elections.

The campaign had so far been plagued by the killings of about two dozen candidates for local offices.

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