A metro overpass collapsed in the Mexican capital late Monday night, sending a train carriage, packed with passengers, plunging 16 feet to the ground. City officials said at least 23 people have been killed in the crash which also injured about 70 others.
Rescuers initially searched a carriage left dangling from the metro overpass for anyone who might be trapped. However, those efforts were suspended today due to the safety concerns of those working near the dangling carriage. To minimise the risk involved in searching the hanging carriage, a crane was sent to the scene to stabilise them amid concerns they could fall onto the road.
Emergency workers scrambled to the scene where tilted metro carriages lay amid tangled wires and twisted metal, pulling dozens of people from the wreckage and transporting more than 70 people to hospitals with injuries. Dramatic footage of the incident shows the overpass suddenly collapsing in a shower of sparks, sending up a cloud of debris as one of the carriages landed on and crushed a vehicle on the road below.
“There are unfortunately children among the dead,” said Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum of one of the deadliest accidents for the city’s metro system, which is among the busiest in the world. The overpass was about 16 feet above the road in the borough of Tlahuac, but the train ran above a concrete median strip, which apparently lessened the casualties among motorists on the road below. Sheinbaum said, “a support beam gave way” just as the train passed over it.
Following the incident, desperate relatives flocked to the scene in search of news on missing loved ones, with others scouring city hospitals. Floodlights illuminated the collapsed bridge as search and rescue teams tried to find survivors in the wreckage. Frontline workers, ambulances, firefighters, the military, and Mexico’s forensic department flooded the scene in an attempt to investigate a cause, whilst preventing further injuries.
The search for survivors had largely turned into a recovery operation by this morning, with government officials saying four of the victims’ bodies were still trapped in the wreckage. Mexican President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the collapse of the city’s metro is “sad news” and sends his condolences to “the families of the victims of this accident”.
Specific concerns were not addressed by local officials in the immediate aftermath of Monday’s accident, however, Sheinbaum said daily maintenance was carried out on the metro line. The system as a whole has been plagued by problems in recent years, including a 7.1 earthquake in 2017.
The Mexico City Metro has had at least two serious accidents since its inauguration half a century ago. In March of last year, a collision between two trains at the Tacubaya station left one passenger dead and 41 others injured. In 2015, a train that did not stop on time crashed into another at the Oceania station, injuring 12 people.
“At this moment, we can’t speculate about what happened,” Ms. Sheinbaum told reporters early Tuesday. “There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”
Difficult questions on the line’s construction await the mayor’s office, and several former mayors, including Marcelo Ebrard. The Mexican Foreign Minister, who was mayor when the line was unveiled and championed the metro’s expansion, has called the accident a “terrible tragedy”. In a Twitter post on Monday, Ebrard said, “of course, the causes should be investigated and the responsibilities for it defined. I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary.”
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