Election demonstration in Mexico: 9 dead and 121 injured when the wind causes the stage to collapse


Nine people died and a presidential candidate was briefly taken to hospital after a stage collapsed due to high winds at a campaign rally in Mexico on Wednesday.

Candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez said he was not injured in the incident, which occurred during his campaign event in the northeastern city of San Pedro Garza García.

The governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo León said at least 121 people were injured and offered to pay the victims’ funeral and hospital costs. Among the deceased is a minor, Governor Samuel García Sepúlveda said in a publication on X, adding that some of the injured are stable while others are undergoing surgery.

“What we experienced happened in just a few seconds: a gale came, a sudden wind and unfortunately the stage collapsed, resulting in a fatal accident,” Álvarez Máynez told Reuters.

“The first thing I saw was that the drums of the musicians, of the group that was going to play, were going to fly. When the others realized it, they ran in different directions; Some jumped to the sides (of the stage) and I jumped back.”

Videos shared on social networks showed the moment when a strong gust caused the stage to collapse. Álvarez Máynez and his team can be seen running away from him for cover as the structure, which included a large video screen, falls onto the stage and part of the audience area.

Footage taken after the accident shows a large number of emergency vehicles at the scene, their lights flashing in the darkness, as they carry away the injured. The area was cordoned off and guarded by heavily armed security personnel.

Alberto López/AP

Security forces stand around a stage that collapsed due to a gust of wind during an event attended by presidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez in San Pedro Garza García, on May 22, 2024.

Close observations from Monterrey show that there were thunderstorms that caused wind gusts of at least 40 to 50 kilometers (about 25 to 30 miles per hour). The stage location was likely affected by a gust front, which is when wind gusts suddenly rise and change direction due to nearby thunderstorms.

Álvarez Máynez later said he would suspend all campaign activities after the collapse, but would remain in the state to monitor the situation and victims.

“We have to have solidarity, there is nothing that can repair an accident, damage of this nature, and (people) will not be alone in this tragedy and in the consequences that this tragedy will have on their lives,” said Álvarez Máynez.

The 38-year-old congressman represents the center-left Citizen Movement party and was named the party’s candidate in January after García Sepúlveda abandoned his candidacy. García Sepúlveda was forced to return to his duties as governor when political chaos erupted under his interim replacement, making his presidential campaign unsustainable.

During his daily press conference, the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sent condolences to the families of the victims and expressed his support for Movimiento Ciudadano.

“We know they are not to blame,” he said, calling on authorities to investigate.

Mexico is heading toward the biggest elections in history on June 2, which have been marred by a rise in political violence and killings.

The presidential election is seen as a two-horse race between former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, a close ally of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and former Senator Xochitl Gálvez, who represents the opposition coalition.

With the two women far ahead in the polls, Mexico will almost certainly elect its first female president in June.

An estimated 70,000 candidates have filed to compete for more than 20,000 positions, including the national presidency and the governorships of nine states.

So far this year, at least 28 candidates have been attacked and 16 murdered, according to data through April 1 from the research group Data Cívica, a figure that will surpass even the bloodiest election cycles in Mexico’s past.

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Daniel Becerril/Reuters

The presidential candidate of the Citizen Movement Party, Jorge Álvarez Máynez, photographed at the scene of the accident in San Pedro Garza García, Mexico.

Speaking to journalists, Álvarez Máynez said that Civil Protection teams had reviewed the “structure of the set” before the event but that the intensity of the wind gusts took the organizers by surprise.

“The weather conditions were very atypical: the rain didn’t even last five minutes… it wasn’t even a storm, what happened was really atypical,” he said.

The presidential candidate said an investigation would be carried out into the incident.

Governor García Sepúlveda urged residents of the area to stay in their homes, warning of more strong winds, thunderstorms and rain.

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