At least 36 people were hospitalized Thursday when the second floor of a packed Houston-area apartment collapsed onto a crowd of people during a religious gathering, officials said.
No one was killed or critically injured, according to a fire department spokesman. Local media reported that the congregants were believers in Jainism, an Indian faith.
About 100 to 125 attendees ranging from elderly to toddlers, with many men wearing ceremonial white gowns and women in brightly colored clothing, were estimated to have gathered at the home in Katy on a special occasion.
There had been about 40 people on the second floor of the apartment when it plunged into a garage area below that was filled with people, who were then trapped beneath the wreckage, Tim Thomas, a spokesman for the West I-10 Fire Department, told the Los Angeles Times.
“Everyone is falling on each other, and for a while you cannot breathe,” one injured woman recounted to KHOU-TV. “After a few minutes, you cannot move your legs or anything, right, because everyone is on you.”
Other attendees quickly rushed to hold up the remains of the second floor to help others escape.
“It was a pretty heroic attempt,” Thomas said, adding that no one was trapped for long.
About 15 ambulances, including a large one that had been converted from a bus, converged on the home, which was probably built in the mid-1980s, Thomas said.
Footage from local media showed a crowded scene around the home, with some victims strapped to stretchers as dozens of people looked on; some men’s white gowns were stained.
Three of the victims were hospitalized in “urgent but not critical” condition; injuries generally included minor cuts, scrapes, bruises, head lacerations, and perhaps one broken arm, Thomas said.
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