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At least 15 hurt after floor collapse at church center in Mississippi

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Emergency responders, members of Freedom Baptist Church, and Myrick community members in rural Jones County, Miss. gather near an ambulance outside the Freedom Baptist Church Wednesday night after a second floor youth room collapsed onto a first floor kitchen. Up to 35 youth ages from seventh grade to 12th grade were injured. A 16-year-old girl who suffered a head injury was airlifted to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. Emergency responders, members of Freedom Baptist Church, and Myrick community members in rural Jones County, Miss. gather near an ambulance outside the Freedom Baptist Church Wednesday night after a second floor youth room collapsed onto a first floor kitchen. Up to 35 youth ages from seventh grade to 12th grade were injured. A 16-year-old girl who suffered a head injury was airlifted to Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. Image source: Associated Press
   LAUREL, Miss. (AP) — The second floor of an activity center at a rural church in Mississippi collapsed during an evening youth service, sending about 70 people tumbling and leaving at least 15 people hurt, the church's pastor and authorities said.
   None of the injuries appeared life-threatening though a 16-year-old girl was taken to a hospital in Hattiesburg with a possible head injury after the floor collapse Wednesday evening, authorities said. The hospital told The Associated Press it had no information to release, while authorities said at least 15 others taken to hospitals had since been released.
   Pastor Tommy Davis at Freedom Baptist Church in Myrick told The Chronicle in Laurel that the floor at the activity center collapsed during a Wednesday evening youth service.
   "In the middle of the student service, the floor — which is a second-story floor — gave way, causing about 70 students to fall," Davis said. "But it's got to be said that no one was seriously injured, no one was trapped. God's hand was certainly taking care of the kids who were in that building."
   Spokeswoman Linda Gavin at the South Central Regional Medical Center, said at least 15 young people were treated there and all later released. She said the 16-year-old girl was taken to a Hattiesburg hospital with a possible head injury.
   Students said the collapse came unexpectedly while the service was under way.
   "We heard a huge rumble and the floor collapsed and people collapsed with it," said one 18-year-old female student.
   Witnesses said youngsters in the 7th to 12th grades were in the youth center for an evening service, adding most had cuts, scrapes, bruises and possibly some with broken bones.
   Dozens of those in the collapse were treated at the scene and released as worried relatives stood by amid the flashing lights of ambulances and emergency vehicles.
   Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge said the drop was about 12 feet in the floor collapse.
   Dispatcher Amanda Lofton at the Jones County Sheriff's Office told AP early Thursday she had no additional information to release and that authorities had no preliminary report on what caused the floor collapse.

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