US & Canada

Burned Texas mosque gets $1m from donors

The Islamic Center of Victoria after a fire. Image copyright Reuters

A Texas mosque has received nearly $1m (£800,000) in donations after it was destroyed in a fire over the weekend.

More than $900,000 had been raised to rebuild the Islamic Center of Victoria as of Monday afternoon, according to a GoFundMe page.

Texas officials have yet to determine the cause of the blaze, which happened in the early hours of Saturday.

The mosque was gutted just a day before an attack on a Quebec City mosque left six people dead.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Islamic center raised more than $900,000 just two days after it burned down

"It's sad to stand there and watch it collapse down, and the fire was so huge," said Shahid Hashmi, the mosque's president.

"It looks completely destroyed."

On Sunday, hundreds of supporters gathered at the site of the fire - 125 miles (200km) south-west of Houston - in a show of solidarity.

"Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we've received," said a statement on the GoFundMe page.

"The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American Spirit."

Emergency crews responded to the Islamic centre in the early hours of Saturday after a petrol station clerk saw smoke, according to the Victoria Advocate newspaper.

The building was engulfed in flames by the time officials arrived, but no one was found inside, according to Victoria Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeff Cowan.

Victoria Fire Chief Taner Drake said on Sunday the investigation into the fire could take months.

Authorities have urged community members not to jump to conclusions about how the fire started.

On Sunday, gunfire erupted at a Quebec City mosque, leaving six people dead and several others wounded.

Canadian police have charged one suspect in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has characterised as a terrorist attack.