Metro

May 23, 2024

Child among nine dead as stage collapses at Mexico election rally

Child among nine dead as stage collapses at Mexico election rally

An election rally in northern Mexico descended into tragedy after a gust of wind sent the stage careening into the crowd, killing at least nine people, including a child, authorities said.

At least 78 other people were injured in the accident Wednesday night, some seriously, according to Nuevo Leon state governor Samuel Garcia.

Footage showed a chaotic scramble as people screamed and tried to leap away from the collapsing structure.

Lights and a giant screen toppled onto the stage as presidential candidate Jorge Alvarez Maynez and members of his Citizens’ Movement party ran from the falling debris.

“I regret to report that so far the number of people killed in the accident stands at eight adults and one minor,” Garcia wrote on social media platform X, adding that at least three people were undergoing surgery.

Speaking to the press from the rally site in San Pedro Garza Garcia, he described the incident as “a tragedy.”

Presidential longshot Maynez, 38, who escaped without serious injury, said the structure was brought down by gusting winds “that lasted five minutes.”

The incident was “not a predictable climate phenomenon as has been speculated,” he said, calling for “absolute transparency” in the investigation.

“I saw a lot of fallen trees… It is really atypical what happened,” Maynez told reporters in San Pedro Garza Garcia, part of the industrial city of Monterrey’s metropolitan area.

Mexico’s meteorological service had 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 on Wednesday night.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the incident must be investigated, while offering his condolences to those impacted as well as the political party.

“We know that they are not responsible, they are having their meetings like everyone else now that we are in the electoral campaign,” he told a press conference.

Lopez Obrador said most of the victims were women, without giving further details.

‘Pure hysteria’ 

Medical teams carted bodies on orange stretchers into waiting vans as soldiers roamed a field littered with debris and muddied campaign posters.

Rally attendee Jose Juan said he saw the stage come crashing down.

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

Citizens’ Movement member Javier Gonzalez-Alcantara told Televisa that first responders had to pull people trapped underneath the collapsed structure.

“All the people who were under the stage were rescued and the injured were taken to the hospitals,” he said.

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

Candidates for the centrist party at the senate and local level also participated.

Maynez, who suspended his upcoming campaign events to remain in San Pedro Garza Garcia, said that members of his team were receiving medical treatment, without specifying their injuries.

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, and expressed “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.

The lead-up to election day has been marred by violence, with more than two dozen politicians killed since the electoral process began last September, according to research group Data Civica.

AFP

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