MEXICO CITY (AP) A raised section of the subway in Mexico City collapsed and sent the train plunged into a busy boulevard late Monday, killing at least 23 people and injuring at least 79, city officials said.
Rescue crews found four bodies trapped inside a railway car hanging from the overpass, but were unable to remove them. It was not clear if the dead were involved among 23. A crane was brought in on Tuesday to lower the car down.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said one of the concrete beams collapsed as a subway train passed over it in one of the deadliest episodes in the history of the city’s subway system, which is among the busiest in the world.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard called the collapse the most horrific accident we have ever had on mass transportation. Ebrard was mayor of Mexico City from 2006 to 2012, when the line in question was built, and the demolition could represent a major blow to him.
The cause of the beam collapse should be determined through an expert investigation, Sheinbaum said.
Earlier she said someone had been pulled alive from a car that was stuck on the road down. She said 77 of the injured were hospitalized. She also said the children were among the dead.
The overpass was about 5 feet (16 feet) above the road in the Tlahuac neighborhood, but the train passed over a medium-sized concrete strip, which apparently minimized casualties among drivers on the way down.
Metro Mexico City which is among the cheapest in the world with tickets costing around 25 cents has had at least two serious accidents since its inauguration half a century ago. In March last year, a collision between two trains at Tacubaya station left one passenger killed and 41 injured. In 2015, a train that did not stop in time collided with another at Oceania station, injuring 12.
Hundreds of police and fire officers surrounded the scene overnight as friends and desperate relatives of people believed to be on the train gathered outside the security perimeter. Despite the fact that the coronavirus situation remains serious in Mexico City, they gathered together while waiting for news.
Adrin Loa Martnez, 46, said his mother called him to tell him that his brother and sister-in-law were driving when the overload collapsed and that a beam fell on their car.
He said his sister-in-law was taken to a hospital, but that his half-brother Jos Juan Galindo was crushed and he feared he had died. He is down there now, he told reporters pointing to the site.
Gisela Rioja Castro, 43, was looking for her husband, 42-year-old Miguel remains Espinoza. She said her husband always takes that train after finishing work at a store, but he never returned home and had stopped answering his phone. When she heard what happened, she was immediately frightened of the worst, but received no information from the authorities.
No one knows anything, she said.
The collapse occurred on the newest subway line of Mexico City, Line 12, which lies heavily in the southern part of the cities. Like many of the subway lines in cities, it runs underground through the city’s most central areas of 9 million people, but then goes to erected concrete structures on the outskirts of cities.
Claims about the project and poor construction on the subway line surfaced shortly after Ebrard left office as mayor. Ebrard is leading Mexico’s efforts to get the coronavirus vaccines and is considered a potential presidential candidate in the 2024 election. The line had to be partially shut down in 2013 in order for the trail to be repaired.
Ebrard wrote on Twitter: What happened today on the Metro is a terrible tragedy.
Of course, the causes need to be investigated and those responsible identified, he wrote. I repeat that I am fully available to the authorities to contribute in any way that is necessary.
On Tuesday, Ebrard appeared at the daily press conference of President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obradors, saying, I share the outrage that exists.
It was not clear if a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 2017 could have affected the subway line. There were reports that cracks had appeared at the base of at least one of the columns supporting the road erected after that earthquake.
The line closed on Tuesday and hundreds of buses were called.