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At least 9 dead, dozens hurt after wind gust topples stage at rally for Mexican presidential candidate

San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico — A strong gust of wind toppled the stage at a campaign rally Wednesday evening in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, killing at least nine people - including a child - and injuring 63, the state's governor said.

The collapse occurred during an event attended by longshot presidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who ran to escape.

Videos of the collapse on social media showed people screaming, running away and climbing out from under metal polls.

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 the outskirts of Monterey, Mexico, on May 22, 2024.  Alberto Lopez / AP

The victims "will not be alone in this tragedy," Máynez told reporters Wednesday night, adding that he had suspended upcoming campaign events.

Afterward, soldiers, police and other officials roamed the grounds of the park where the event took place while many nearby sat stunned and haunted by the tragedy.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he "sends a hug to family members, friends of the victims and political supporters." Condolences poured in from across Mexico, including from other presidential candidates.

Presidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez
Presidential candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez,  of the Citizens Movement party, speaks before the last presidential debate ahead of the presidential election at Centro Cultural Tlatelolco on May 19, 2024, in Mexico City. Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

In a video message, Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Garcia, a leading member of Máynez's Citizens Movement party, asked residents to shelter in their houses for the next two hours due to strong thunderstorms in the area.

Máynez wrote on his social media accounts that he went to a hospital after the accident in the wealthy suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, near the city of Monterrey. He said he was in good condition.

"The only important thing at this point is to care for the victims of the accident," he wrote.

He went back to the rally site after being cleared at the hospital and said he was suspending campaign activities, Reuters reported, adding that Máynez said he hoped authorities investigate what had happened, and with transparency.

Videos of the accident showed Máynez waving his arm as the crowd chanted his name. But then he looked up to see a giant screen and metal structure toppling toward him. He ran rapidly toward the back of the stage to avoid the falling structure, which appeared to consist of relatively light framework pieces as well as what appeared to be a screen with the party's logo and theater-style lights.

Agence Grance Presse reports that Jose Juan, who was at the rally, told broadcaster Televisa the structure "hit me on the head and I fainted. The rest was pure hysteria, pure panic."

Máynez has been running third in polls in the presidential race, far behind both front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Morena Party and opposition coalition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez. Both sent their condolences, and Sheinbaum canceled a campaign event in Monterrey the next day "in solidarity" with victims and their loved ones.

"My condolences and prayers with the families of the dead, and my wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured," Gálvez wrote in a social media post.

The accident happened at the height of campaign season, with many events held this week and next in anticipation of the June 2 presidential, state and municipal elections.

The campaign has been plagued by the killings of about two dozen candidates for local offices. But it hasn't been marred by campaign accidents.

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