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Mexico election rally: 9 dead, 54 injured as wind causes stage collapse

Alberto López/AP

Security forces cordon off the area after a stage collapsed due to a gust of wind in San Pedro Garza García on May 22, 2024.


Nine people were killed and a presidential candidate was briefly taken to hospital after a stage collapsed in high winds at a campaign rally in Mexico on Wednesday.

Candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez said he was not injured in the incident, which occurred during his election campaign in San Pedro Garza García, in the northeast of the country.

The governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon said at least 54 people were injured and rescue operations were underway to save some of those trapped under the collapsed stage.

Among the dead is a minor, Governor Samuel García Sepúlveda said in a message on X, adding that some of the injured are stable while others are undergoing surgery.

Videos shared on social media showed the moment a strong gust caused the stage to collapse. Álvarez Máynez and his team can be seen running for cover as the structure, which included a large video screen, falls onto the stage and part of the audience area.

Footage taken following the crash shows a large number of emergency vehicles at the scene, their lights flashing in the darkness, as the injured are evacuated. The area was cordoned off and guarded by heavily armed security officers.

Alberto López/AP

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, May 22, 2024.

Mexico’s weather service had predicted powerful winds across the region, warning of gusts of up to 70 kilometers per hour (43 miles per hour) starting Wednesday afternoon.

Álvarez Máynez later said he was suspending all campaign activities following the collapse, but would remain in the state to monitor the situation and the victims.

“We must show solidarity, there is nothing that can repair an accident, damage of this nature, and (people) will not be alone in the face of this tragedy and the consequences that this tragedy will have in their lives” , said Álvarez Maynez. .

The 38-year-old MP represents the center-left Citizen Movement party and was named the party’s candidate in January after García Sepúlveda withdrew. García Sepúlveda was forced to return to office as governor as political chaos erupted under his interim replacement, making his presidential campaign untenable.

Álvarez Máynez is unlikely to win the presidency – the election is seen as a two-horse race between a former Mexico City mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, a close ally of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and a former senator Xochitl Gálvez who is representing the opposition coalition.

With both women well ahead in the polls, Mexico will almost certainly elect its first female president in June.

Speaking to journalists, Álvarez Máynez said that Civil Defense teams had checked the “structure of the setting” before the event, but that the violence of the gusts of wind had surprised the organizers.

“The weather conditions were very atypical: the rain didn’t last even five minutes… it wasn’t even a storm, what happened was really atypical,” he said.

The presidential candidate said an investigation into the incident would take place.

Governor García Sepúlveda urged area residents to stay home, warning of stronger winds, thunderstorms and rain.

On June 2, Mexico heads toward the largest elections in its history, marked by an upsurge in political violence and assassinations.

An estimated 70,000 candidates showed up to compete for more than 20,000 positions, including national presidency and governorships in nine states.

So far this year, at least 28 candidates have been attacked, and 16 have been killed, according to data through April 1 from research group Data Cívica, a figure expected to surpass even the bloodiest election cycles of the past Mexican.

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