EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The 30 people at a church meeting were in the midst of a prayer break when a portion of the building's floor collapsed Thursday night, with about half falling 8-10 feet into the basement.
The most serious injuries were two women, ages 50 and 78, who were taken to hospitals with leg and ankle injuries, city police spokesman Brian Talsma said. Several others suffered minor injuries and rode with family members to a hospital to be checked out.
One of those inside Mount Calvary Baptist Church, Mark Duff, told the Evansville Courier & Press that the collapse "was just like an earthquake the way everything fell inside."
Two beams below the wooden floor apparently snapped about 7:30 p.m., opening a hole about 12 feet across, Talsma said.
The storefront building near the city's downtown is about 100 years old and church members apparently did not know about the lower level, which Talsma described as a cellar that runs only a portion of the building.
"It could have been a lot worse," Talsma said.
The Rev. Carl Walker, the church's pastor, said he did not know of any previous structural problems with the building.
"It might have been old age," Talsma said about the cause of the collapse.
The floor fell during a meeting of the Ohio Valley District Association that included people from several churches, the Rev. Roger Duncan said.
Melvin Maxwell, 16, said his mother, Yolanda, had stood up to speak when he heard a crack.
"The floor just sank in," he said. "We fell right in the cellar."