Trade hall roof collapses in Poland

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

File:TragediaKatowice06.jpg
Rescue workers at the scene

The roof of a trade hall in Metropolian Katowice (district Chorzów and Katowice), Poland has collapsed. Officials said there are at least 67 fatalities and at least 160 people were injured. More than 125 people are still believed to be trapped inside the building.

"Luckily nothing happened to me, but I saw a macabre scene, as people tried to break windows in order to get out. People were hitting the panes with chairs, but the windows were unbreakable. One of the panes finally broke, and they started to get out by the window," said survivor Franciszek Kowal.

Victims have been transported to hospitals in the mining area.

The trade hall was holding a pigeon exhibition [1] and the collapse is believed to have been caused by large amounts of snow on the roof. At least 500 people were believed to be inside when the roof collapsed.

Jaroslaw Wojtasik a spokeman for the Katowice fire brigade said, "the weight of snow likely caused the roof to cave in at about 5:30 p.m., less than two hours before the event was scheduled to close for the evening."

Map highlighting Katowice, Poland.

"From our crisis centres, we have found there are about 20 fatalities. We don't know if foreigners are among them," said Andrzej Gąska, spokesman for the regional police department.

Rescuers are concerned that people trapped may die from hypothermia due to the freezing temperatures (currently about -15 degrees Celsius in Chorzów ).

People standing outisde the building were helping rescuers and those that were injured into emergency vehicles.

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