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"Church Balcony Collapse in Philippines: 1 Dead, 53 Injured


In Manila, a tragic incident occurred during an Ash Wednesday mass at the Saint Peter the Apostle church, where a Catholic church balcony collapsed, leading to the death of an 80-year-old woman and injuring 53 individuals. Ash Wednesday is one of the busiest days on the Church calendar, signifying the commencement of Lent in the Philippines, attracting millions of worshippers.

Gina Ayson, the civil defense chief of San Jose del Monte, near Manila, revealed that the 30-year-old wooden gallery of the church had been weakened by termites, ultimately causing its collapse during the mass. The elderly victim succumbed to chest injuries at a local hospital.

Ayson stated that city building officials discovered termite infestation in a section of the collapsed structure, which appeared normal externally. The weakened structure gave way during the mass, leading churchgoers to fall to the ground floor below.

About 400 people were attending the mass at the time, primarily comprised of elderly individuals. The other victims sustained bruises and minor injuries. Mayor Arthur Robes took immediate action by ordering the closure of the damaged church. Investigators were deployed to inspect the structural integrity of the building, ensuring its safety for future use.

Photographs posted by Mayor Robes on his Facebook page depicted the aftermath of the incident, showing a section of the wooden balcony hanging just above the ground floor, strewn with debris, broken chairs, and church pews. Yellow police tape marked off the area, emphasizing the potential danger. Emergency responders were seen providing aid to the injured, underscoring the severity of the situation.

This tragic event not only highlights the immediate consequences of the collapse but also raises concerns about the structural maintenance of aging buildings, emphasizing the importance of regular inspections and structural assessments to prevent such incidents in the future.

Feb. 14, 2024 3:48 p.m. 1396

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