Four killed in Latvian supermarket roof collapse

Four killed in Latvian supermarket roof collapse

Four people were killed and at least 30 others injured when large sections of the roof collapsed at a grocery store in Latvia’s capital, rescue officials said.

Firefighters and soldiers were searching for survivors amid the debris at the Maxima supermarket in Riga.

The collapse took down the shop’s high walls and windows in a ripple effect which filled the shell of the building with rubble and left shattered glass on the street. The cause of the collapse was unknown, but workers were reportedly planting a winter garden on the store’s expansive grass-covered roof.

One firefighter was among those killed and seven were injured when another portion of the roof fell on rescue workers as they began searching for survivors in the debris, Riga Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman Viktorija Sembele said.

Ilze Buksa, a spokeswoman for Latvia’s emergency medical service, said 22 people were being treated in hospitals with various injuries, some of them serious. Many casualties received treatment at the scene and then went home.

It was unclear how many people might be trapped, but the store is in a densely populated part of the capital, not far from the city centre. Authorities said the accident happened at about 6pm local time, during the after-work rush-hour.

Ms Sembele said the cause of the collapse, which included approximately 5,300 square feet (500 square metres) (5,300 square feet) of roof, was not clear. Witnesses told Latvian media they heard an explosion, but there were reports that a garden with trees and plants was being built on the store’s sizeable roof.

Ms Sembele confirmed that there may have been additional construction, which apparently included a large amount of soil and dirt.

The grocery store is part of a 53,000 square feet (5,000 square metre) shopping centre which was completed in November 2011, and incorporated a large, grassy area on the roof.

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