June 24th, 2024

Strong winds topple stage at a campaign rally in northern Mexico, killing at least 9 people

By Alberto Mendoza, The Associated Press on May 22, 2024.

Security forces stand around a stage that 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 Monterey, Mexico, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed that multiple people were killed and at least a dozen were injured. (AP Photo/Alberto Lopez)

SAN PEDRO GARZA GARCIA, Mexico (AP) – A strong gust of wind toppled the stage at a campaign rally Wednesday evening in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, killing at least nine people – including a child – and injuring 63, the state’s governor said.

The collapse occurred during an event 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.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he “sends a hug to family members, friends of the victims and political supporters.” Condolences poured in from across Mexico, including by other presidential candidates.

In a video message, Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Garcia, a leading member of Máynez’s Citizens Movement party, asked residents to shelter in their houses for the next two hours. He provided the death toll of at least five and dozens injured.

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.

Miguel Treviño, the mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia, wrote in his social media accounts, “My prayers are with the victims.”

Campaign events are being held this week and next in anticipation of the June 2 presidential, state and municipal elections.

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.

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.

“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 campaign has so far been plagued by the killings of about two dozen candidates for local offices. But it has not been marred by campaign accidents.

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