At least seven people were killed in Mexico on Sunday after the roof of a church came crashing down, local officials said.
“Seven people are confirmed dead, and 10 injured people have been rescued” in the northeastern coastal town of Ciudad Madero, a spokesperson for the Tamaulipas state government said in a statement.
More people remained trapped and rescue efforts were underway after the incident which occurred in the early afternoon, the spokesperson added.
Local media reported that at least 20 people were missing under the rubble of the Santa Cruz parish, and that a baptism was being celebrated when the ceiling collapsed.
“We are experiencing a very difficult moment… the roof of a church has collapsed during the celebration of the Eucharist,” the bishop of the local diocese Jose Armando Alvarez said in a video posted to social media.
“At this moment they are doing the necessary work to save the people who are still under the rubble,” he added, without providing more details.
A Red Cross rescuer told Milenio Television that the death toll was likely to rise, as there were approximately 80 people in attendance when the roof caved in, adding that by nightfall the team was waiting for specialized equipment to arrive in order to complete a “final search” under the rubble.
The tv channel showed dozens of people trying to hold up part of the collapsed structure with poles while others made their way through the wreckage in search of survivors.
In a scene reminiscent of earthquake recovery efforts, rescuers could be seen raising their fists in the air as a call for silence so they might hear any calls for help coming from people stuck under the wreckage.
“Security and civil protection forces are already dealing with the situation… to coordinate rescue plans,” Tamaulipas Governor Americo Villarreal wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
A video reportedly from a nearby security camera appears to show the moment of collapse, as the church building disappears into a cloud of dust.
The Archdiocese of Mexico posted a message on social media offering condolences, saying “We join in prayer with our sister diocese Tampico to intercede for our killed and injured brothers.”
Local residents put out calls on social media asking for tools to aid the rescue effort, such as hydraulic lifts, wood and hammers.
Ciudad Madero is a city of just over 200,000 people on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.