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66 bodies pulled out of collapsed exhibition hall in Katowice

66 killed and 141 injured was the toll for the accident that took place on Saturday in Katowice.

Saturday was the second day of the Racing Pigeon Fair, this country's largest pigeon exhibition held annually in the largest building at the Katowice International Fair Ground. Around 5 pm, the roof of the building crashed, falling down on the heads of at least 500 racing pigeon breeders and fans gathered inside. Hundreds of firemen and numerous rescue teams immediately started to search the scene looking for survivors but difficult conditions and low temperatures made the task very difficult.

Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz saw it as his duty to support the victims and their families and arrived in Katowice on Saturday night, while President Lech Kaczyñski declared a period of national mourning. The victims are not only Polish but also Germans, Slovaks, Czechs and Belgians.

The Prosecutor's Office investigating the case initially stated that the possible reason why the roof fell in was because it could not hold the pressure of approximately 2,500 tonnes of snow and ice covering it. It has been rumoured that there were problems with the roof long before the accident as it was bending because of heavy snowfall.

President Kaczynski said this has been the biggest tragedy in Poland in many many years.

(WBJ 30.i.06)

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