65 Die in Polish Building Collapse

January 29, 2006

At least 65 persons lost their lives when the roof of an exposition building in Katowice, Poland collapsed Saturday afternoon, Jan. 28, possibly under the weight of accumulated heavy snow.

Another 140 people, who were attending a pigeon fanciers show in the building, have been injured, many of them seriously. Rescue workers, aided by sniffer dogs, labored throughout the night to bring out survivors from among the estimated 500 people who were in the building when the roof gave way.

Extreme low temperatures, -15°C (5°F), hampered their efforts and lessened the chances of finding survivors. Authorities have called the tragedy one of the worst in Polish history.

The actual cause of the structural failure is under investigation. Several eyewitnesses told French reporters that snow had been regularly cleared from the roof, and expressed doubt that it could have been the cause of its collapse. The structure was practically new, built in the 1990’s, which raises questions concerning the possibility of design or construction faults.

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