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Nine dead as stage collapses at Mexico campaign rally

By AFP

May 23, 2024 11:07 AM


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At least nine people, including a child, died after strong wind gusts caused a stage in northern Mexico to collapse during a campaign rally on Wednesday, authorities said.

At least 50 other people were injured in the accident, some seriously, according to Nuevo Leon Governor Samuel Garcia.

Local media footage of the accident showed a chaotic scene as the crowd fled the toppling stage while the lights and a giant screen crashed into the area where longshot presidential candidate Jorge Alvarez Maynez and members of his Citizens' Movement party were standing.

"I regret to report that so far the number of people killed in the accident stands at eight adults and one minor," Governor Garcia wrote on social media platform X.

Speaking to the press from the scene of the accident in the town of San Pedro Garza Garcia, he described it as "a tragedy."

Maynez, who escaped without serious injury, said the stage collapsed due to a strong gust of wind.

"I am fine and in communication with the authorities" over what happened, the 38-year-old wrote on X, adding that the priority was to take care of the victims.

Medical teams were seen moving bodies into vans as soldiers roamed a field littered with debris and campaign posters scattered on the ground.

The event was a closing campaign rally for the Citizens' Movement candidate for mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia, Lorenia Canavati.

Candidates for senators and lawmakers from the party also participated.

Maynez, who has suspended upcoming campaign events, said that he would remain at the scene until the last injured person was taken to hospital.

Some members of his team were being treated at the hospital, he said, without specifying their injuries.

- 'Pure panic' -

Jose Juan, who was at the rally, recounted how the structure came crashing down on the candidates and their supporters.

"It hit me on the head and I fainted. The rest was pure hysteria, pure panic," he told broadcaster Televisa.

Mexico’s meteorological service had earlier warned of heavy rain, wind gusts of up to 70 kilometers (43 miles) per hour and possible tornadoes in Nuevo Leon and other northern states.

Governor Garcia called on people to avoid going outside because of the storms.

In a post on social media, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador offered his sympathies to the family members and friends of the victims.

The other two presidential candidates also expressed solidarity with those affected.

Frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum said that she was canceling a rally planned for Thursday in Monterrey, expressing "solidarity with the family and friends of the victims."

Main opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez offered "condolences and prayers" to the families of those killed and "wishes for a speedy recovery to all the injured."

On June 2, Mexicans will vote for a new president as well as members of Congress, several state governors and local officials.

According to the polls, Maynez lags behind both Sheinbaum and Galvez, trailing at a distant third ahead of the vote.


AFP


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