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Witnesses Of Roof Collapse Recall ‘Something Like An Explosion’ With AM-Roof Collapse Bjt

July 10, 1988

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ For some of those inside the Amigo Store, the discount department store was merely a refuge from a powerful rainstorm.

Some of the people killed when the store’s roof collapsed had never shopped at the store along a busy commercial section downtown, blocks from the Mexico border. They ducked inside the three-story building for shelter from the 2 inches of rain that fell in a half hour Thursday afternoon, relatives said.

Adrian Davila Silva, 15, vividly recalls the moments before and after the collapse, saying his family never had shopped at the store.

″We were just walking down the street, but we couldn’t walk anymore because it was raining too hard,″ he said. ″We all got into the store.

″We were five meters inside the store and I was near my cousin, Charlene, and then suddenly there was something like an explosion. It got dark and the walls fell,″ said Davila.

″I saw some light and that’s where we climbed out of there,″ he said. ″I expected to see destruction everywhere when I got out, but it was only this building.″

About 100 people were in the store when the 30-ton roof collapsed. At least 14 people were killed and 47 injured. Rescue workers continued clearing debris late Saturday afternoon but said they believed they had recovered all the bodies.

Officials had said earlier that 16 people died in the collapse, but revised the figure downward Saturday afternoon.

Six survivors were found Friday underneath tons of concrete, twisted steel and broken glass that showered down on them when the roof collapsed.

″It doesn’t sound like we will find anybody else alive,″ said police spokesman Sgt. Dean Poos.

Relatives of those trapped had stayed near the scene and prayed, including Dr. Jose Carrera of Matamoros, Mexico, whose wife, Leticia, and their 4-year- old son, Israel, had been among the missing. Their 8-year-old daughter Denise was rescued Friday and was recuperating at home.

″She is doing fine,″ Carrera had said. ″But she is just sad that her mother is still in there. We are praying that they will find her and my boy alive.″

But the Carrera family’s worst fears were confirmed Saturday when the son’s body was found, and later in the day Mrs. Carrera’s body was the 14th to be discovered.

Services were held Friday for one of the victims, Bertha C. Musquiz, 77, and two mother-daughter funerals were held Saturday afternoon in Matamoros.

Among those laid to rest Saturday was 19-year-old Maria Dolores Acosta Reyes, who had been deaf since birth, and her mother, Antonia Reyes de Acosta.

Marty Price, pastor of the Brownsville Baptist Deaf Church, described Miss Acosta as ″very sweet, very likable. She was very easy to get to know and she had a lot of friends. A lot of the children here are expressing some surprise to a lot of this. They can’t understand why she had to die.″

Among the rescue workers was Jose Hinojosa Hernandez, 35, an architect from Monterrey, Mexico, who helped in the rescue effort during the Mexico City earthquakes in September 1985.

″The mayor wanted to thank me for coming, but I am thankful to him because I am working,″ said Hernandez, who was granted a visa waiver by U.S. Customs officials.

″I like working because I know someone is down there waiting for me,″ he said. ″Whenever I go to a rescue, I know I might not return.″

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