53 dead after migrant truck crash in Mexico



Rescue workers rushing to a highway crash discovered a horrific scene of death and injury after a cargo truck carrying about 200 migrants overturned and hit a man in the leg. Steel pedestrian bridge in southern Mexico.

Migrants inside the trailer were tossed and crushed in a heap of both the living and the dead.

By late Thursday, the death toll was 53, and authorities said at least 54 people had been injured. It was one of the worst single-day massacres of migrants in Mexico since the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants by the Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

Volunteer rescuers used their hands and feet to pull bodies out of the pile, while some migrants struggled to free themselves from the twisted steel plates of the collapsed container.

A young man, gripped in a mound of motionless bodies, twisted to release the lower half of his frame, his face contorted as he lowered himself from the weight of the corpse.

Nearby, a man blinked, unable to move as he lay on his shoulder by the roadside. Beside him was another emigrant, older and more stooped, eyes staring blankly and unblinking at the setting sun.

While the Mexican government is trying to appease the United States by stopping caravans carrying migrants on foot and allowing the reinstatement of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the government has not been able to stop the flow of migrants. Residents crammed hundreds of people at once into cargo trucks. run by smugglers who charge thousands of dollars to get them to the US border – frequent trips that only lead them to their deaths.

The most seriously injured person, many covered in blood, was carried with his hands and feet on a plastic sheet placed on the road. Those who could walk were led, stunned and unintelligible, to the same plate. Ambulances, cars and pickup trucks were pressed into service, taking the injured to hospital.

Then the dead were laid out in rows of white sheets, side by side, on the highway.

Rescuers who arrived first said even more migrants were in the truck when it crashed and had fled for fear of being detained by immigration officers. A paramedic said some of those who rushed into surrounding residential areas were bleeding or bruised, but were still limping in desperation to escape.

Guatemala’s top human rights official, Jordán Rodas, said around 200 migrants may have been herded into trucks. While shocking, that number is not unusual for migrant smuggling operations in Mexico, and the weight of the load – combined with the speed and a nearby bend – could be enough to make the vehicle The truck lost balance, authorities said.

Luis Manuel Moreno, head of the Chiapas state civil defense office, said about 21 injured people had serious injuries and had been taken to a local hospital. The federal attorney general’s office said three people were seriously injured in the collision on the highway leading from the Guatemala border to the state capital Chiapas.

Sitting on the sidewalk next to the overturned tractor-trailer, survivor Celso Pacheco of Guatemala said the truck felt like it was speeding and then appeared to lose control.

Pacheco said there were migrants mainly from Guatemala and Honduras on board and estimated there were eight to 10 young children. He said he was trying to get to the United States, but is now expected to be deported to Guatemala.

Marco Antonio Sánchez, director of the Chiapas Fire Institute, said ambulances rushed victims to three hospitals, each carrying three to four injured people. When there weren’t enough ambulances, they loaded them into pickup trucks, he said.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei wrote on Twitter: “I deeply regret the tragedy in the state of Chiapas, and I express my solidarity with the families of the victims, to whom we will provide all our support. necessary consular services, including repatriation”.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis, who visited Chiapas in 2015 and made the plight of migrants the hallmark of his pontificate, sent a telegram of condolence on Friday to the Archbishop. item Tuxtla Gutierrez. In the note, he prayed for the victims, their families and those injured.

The truck was originally a sealed freight module, used to transport perishable goods. The box was broken due to the force of the impact. It is not clear if the driver survived.

People who spoke to survivors said the migrants boarded trucks in Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, and paid between $2,500 and $3,500 to be taken to the central Mexican state of Puebla. Once there, they presumably contracted with another smuggling group to bring them to the US border.

In recent months, Mexican authorities have tried to stop migrants from walking in large groups toward the US border, but the clandestine and illegal flow continues.

In October, in one of the largest recorded busts of recent memory, the northern border state government of Tamaulipas discovered 652 mostly Central American migrants crammed into a convoy of six trucks. cargo bound for the US border.

Irineo Mujica, an activist who is leading a march of about 400 migrants who have been walking for nearly a month and a half through southern Mexico, blamed Thursday’s disaster that left Mexico devastated migrant caravans .

Mujica and his team had almost reached the outskirts of Mexico City, after weeks of dealing with National Guard officers who tried to stop the march. Mujica said the group would stop and pray for the migrants who died.

“Policies that kill us, kill us, are what lead to this kind of tragedy,” Mujica said.

In fact, they are two very different groups. The caravans often attract migrants who do not have the thousands of dollars needed to pay the migrant smugglers.

Migrants involved in serious accidents are usually allowed to stay in Mexico at least temporarily because they are considered witnesses and victims of the crime, and Mexico’s National Institute of Immigration said it would grant humanitarian visas to survivors.

The agency also said the Mexican government would help identify the dead and cover funeral costs or repatriate their remains.

The mass deaths of migrants is something President Andrés Manuel López Obrador desperately avoids, even as his administration has accepted a request from the US government to stem the flow of migrants moving north.

“It was very painful,” he wrote on his Twitter account of the crash. 53 dead after migrant truck crash in Mexico

Aila Slisco

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