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Supermarket Roof Collapses in Brazil

March 22, 2001

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SAO CAETANO DO SUL, Brazil (AP) _ The metal roof of a huge supermarket collapsed Wednesday afternoon injuring 20 people, police said.

As many as 1,000 shoppers and employees were inside the store when about one-quarter of its roof came down onto an area where the cash registers where located, said firefighter Wagner Ferrari.

He said victims were treated for minor injuries at local hospitals.

Ferrari said 40 minutes of torrential downpours, including hailstones, earlier on Wednesday may have contributed to the collapse, which caused panic among shoppers.

``First I heard a loud grating noise, then there was a loud bang as if a bomb had exploded, and I felt the structure shake. Next thing I know, hundreds of people were poring out like a stampede,″ said Jose Arnaldo Vieira Souza, a supermarket security guard.

Heaps of twisted metal, shattered glass and broken pieces of concrete could be seen from the door scattered around inside the supermarket.

Update hourly