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Three dozen people injured in collapse at W. Harris County home

36 people are sent the hospital after the ceiling collapses during a Jain religious ceremony
Authorities say a floor collapsed under a large crowd of people gathered in a west Harris County home, sending three-dozen people to hospitals, mostly with minor injuries.

West I-10 Fire Department spokesman Tim Thomas says the collapse occurred Thursday afternoon as about 100 people were gathering for a religious event at a home in the 21300 block of Park Mill Lane.



Thomas says people were in a residence above a detached garage when the floor gave way.

"When we arrived on scene, there was a substantial number of people inside there're people that were trapped in that we were able to extricate quickly," he said.



It's unclear how many people were inside at the time, but a witness at the scene says victims were on the second floor when the collapse occurred.

"All the people on the second level, on the top of the garage, there was a big function going on and everybody there. I think it was overloaded and the beam broke, and the whole flat just went down," the witness told Eyewitness News.

"We felt that everything was falling down and then everybody is falling on each other, so for a while you cannot breathe," victim Saroj Ghalani said. "Nobody can move so that's why your feet and everything was stuck. You cannot move this way or that way until someone gets up."

All individuals have been accounted for, and no one suffered life-threatening injuries.



Eighteen of the injured victims were transported to Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital; nine were taken to Houston Methodist Hospital West; four were transported to Memorial Hermann Memorial City; another four were taken to Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital and one transported to Memorial Hermann Northwest Hospital.

So far, 34 of the victims have been discharged; two are being admitted but are still considered to be in good condition.

Emergency crews set up a makeshift triage area in the front yards of several homes. Some of those injured were taken away by stretcher.



Neighbors say the homeowners had sent out a letter to let them know they expected about 150 guests at a large, religious family gathering scheduled from 10am to 2pm that was to include music and dancing. Arrangements had been made for transportation in the neighborhood.

Witnesses say the event that was taking place is called a Pooja, and those who were participating in it are Jain. Jain is a religion closely related to Hinduism; in fact, many people consider it to be a sect of Hinduism. They worship idols, and that is what witnesses say was going on just before the collapse.

It's not immediately known if any regulations were broken.

"Most occupancy permits only apply to commercial structures. We don't go around regulating residential," Houston Fire Department Spokesman Ruy Lozano said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
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