More than 30 people in Texas were taken to area hospitals after a two-story building collapsed during a celebration — an accident that could have been far worse, authorities said.
The collapse of the second floor of a two-story garage in west Harris County at around 1 p.m. sent 36 people to area hospitals, but most suffered only minor to moderate injuries, Houston Fire Department Senior Captain Ruy Lozano told NBC News.
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"The people were on the second floor and kind of rode the collapse down," Lozano said. "The true danger would have been if people were on the first floor."
The collapse happened during an apparent religious celebration in which 150 people were expected to attend, according to a letter distributed to neighbors in advance of the event and obtained by NBC Affiliate KPRC in Houston.
Others hurt in the collapse were treated at the scene but did not require hospitalization. As many as 100 victims were hurt overall, the station reported.
A cause of the collapse has not yet been determined. A thunderstorm passed through about an hour and a half before the collapse, dumping a half-inch of rain on the area and generating 40 mph winds, according to KPRC meteorologist Khambrel Marshall.
Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle via AP
Firefighters and emergency crews treated people outside in a makeshift triage area set up in the front yards of nearby homes after a floor collapsed under a large crowd of people gathered for a religious event June 26, in Katy, Texas. People were in a room above a detached garage when the floor gave way, though it wasn't immediately clear how many people were inside at the time, West I-10 Fire Department spokesman Tim Thomas said.
The collapse prompted a large response from emergency personnel, with at least four fire departments arriving at the scene, Lozano said. The rescue operation took about three hours, but the investigation into the cause was ongoing Thursday evening.
West Harris County is about 25 miles west of Houston.
— Phil Helsel
First published June 26 2014, 12:44 PM