3 killed, 44 injured as church roof collapses in Vietnam

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The site of a church roof collapse that left three people dead, and 44 others injured in the northern province of Thai Nguyen on January 17

At least three people died and 44 others were injured when the roof of a church that was under construction collapsed in the northern province of Thai Nguyen Thursday. 

The roof, approximately 300 square meters in size, fell as nearly 100 people were working on the site of the Ngoc Lam Church in Dong Hy District.

Witnesses said the accident happened at around 9.45 a.m., making tens of construction workers come crashing down upon those working underneath, who were buried under a mass of construction materials.

Speaking to Thanh Nien, Nguyen Minh Kham, one of those injured, said he was on the roof when the accident took place. He fell off the site, winding up with a broken leg.

He said not many people were under the roof at that time, so the number of buried victims was limited.

Dang Viet Thuan, vice chairman of Thai Nguyen People's Committee, told Thanh Nien that local agencies stopped their rescue efforts later that day.

Provincial authorities have ordered related agencies to clarify the cause of the accident, he added.

Three of the victims confirmed as deceased were identified as Pham Van Loc, 36, Bui Van Ke, 48, and Dang Van Bien, 33, according to Dr. Nguyen Huy Son, vice director of Thai Nguyen Central General Hospital.

He said 44 others were hospitalized with injuries, many highly serious, such as broken spinal columns and ruptured livers.

Construction of the Ngoc Lam Church, set to cover a 500 square meters, began in October 2011. Workers were in the middle of having cementing the roof when the accident happened, Thanh Nien reporters learned.

The nine-meter high church was being built with funds donated by local people. It was expected to host the activities of nearly 300 parishioners once completed.

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