Hordes of shoppers were picking up food after work in the Latvian capital when an enormous section of the supermarket's roof caved in. Firefighters rushed in to save them, only to be crushed themselves when a second part of the roof collapsed. The death toll from the rush-hour disaster yesterday evening at the Maxima supermarket in Riga rose to 45 today, including three firefighters, police said. Spokesman Toms Sadovskisk said the death toll is expected to go even higher, and nine of the dead were still unidentified.
Another 35 people were injured, 28 of them hospitalized, including 10 firefighters struck just as they entered the unstable building, the Fire and Rescue Service said. The rescue agency could not say how many people might be trapped under the rubble in the densely populated, working-class neighborhood between downtown Riga and the city's airport. The reason for the collapse was still not known, but rescue and police officials said workers had been building a garden on the roof as part of the supermarket's original design.