4 dead after roof collapse at Latvian store

Rescuers work at the Maxima grocery store after its roof collapsed in Riga, Latvia.

Rescuers work at the Maxima grocery store after its roof collapsed in Riga, Latvia. Photo by The Associated Press.

RIGA, Latvia (AP) — Large sections of roof collapsed Thursday at a grocery store in Latvia’s capital, killing four and injuring at least 30, rescue officials said. Firefighters and soldiers were searching for survivors amid the debris.

The collapse took down the Maxima supermarket’s high walls and windows in a ripple effect that filled the shell of the building with rubble and left shattered glass on the street. The cause was still 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 after another portion of 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 injured received treatment on site and 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 center. Authorities say the accident happened at about 6 p.m. local time, during the after-work rush hour.

Sembele said the cause of the collapse, which included approximately 5,300 square feet of roof, was not clear. Witnesses have 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.

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