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Hopes For Survivors Fading In Poland Roof Collapse

Rescue workers treat a victim in Katowice today (epa) 29 January 2006 -- Hopes are fading today of finding any more survivors among the rubble of a collapsed exhibition hall in southern Poland

Officials said at least 66 people were killed and some 140 injured when the roof of the exhibition hall in the town of Katowice, about 350 kilometers south of Warsaw, collapsed on 28 January.

Rescue crews worked through the night searching for survivors, but nobody has been brought alive from the debris since late on 28 January. Ultimately, there were nearly 1,000 police, firefighters, and soldiers involved in the operation. Workers from local mines were also called in along, with heavy cutting equipment.

Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz arrived at the site overnight and described the collapse as a national tragedy.

"This is a tragedy," Marcinkiewicz said. "I offer words of compassion and condolence to the families of the victims. I declare any possible assistance to the families -- including financially."

Rescuers feared the death toll would rise as victims were unlikely to have survived freezing temperatures, which dropped to minus 15 degrees Celsius overnight.

Some 500 people were in the building at the time of the roof collapse attending an exhibition of racing pigeons.

It was unclear whether snow on the roof contributed to the collapse or whether the accident was the result of structural problems.

(compiled from agency reports)