At least 23 dead, 65 injured in Mexico City train overpass collapse
Security footage shows the moment the overpass collapsed, sending train cars and debris onto the road below
Patrick J. McDonnell
Los Angeles Times
MEXICO — At least 23 people were killed and 65 injured Monday when an overpass collapsed on an elevated Mexico City Metro line, plunging a passenger train toward the avenue below and sending debris crashing onto the busy roadway.
The incident occurred about 10:25 p.m. in the southeast section of the capital on Metro Line 12, a branch that has long been dogged by complaints of poor construction.
"We heard a loud sound like thunder, and then everything came crashing down," a 22-year-old survivor identified only as Mariana told Mexico's El Universal newspaper. "There were a lot of people standing and sitting in the [train]. ... We went flying and hit against the roof."
Terrified commuters were trapped inside the twisted train for about 15 minutes until someone managed to break a window, through which the passengers in Mariana's subway car escaped, she told the newspaper.
The moment of the crash was captured on dramatic video posted on social media. The 10-second video, from official Mexico City security footage, showed the Metro bridge collapsing onto busy Tláhuac Avenue, where traffic was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and debris.
Of the 70 injured, 49 were hospitalized, said Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who rushed to the chaotic scene, where emergency crews pulled victims from the wreckage and tried to stabilize the collapsed overpass. Officials provided no breakdown of how many victims had been in the train and how many were pedestrians or motorists on the roadway below.
The conditions of those hospitalized were not immediately available. At least seven victims were in surgery, Sheinbaum said.
Hours after the incident, rescue workers were still removing bodies from the scene.
Sheinbaum told reporters that a metal beam supporting the concrete overpass failed as the train rumbled above it. What caused the beam to give way was not clear.
"All investigations will be done to discover the causes," the mayor said. "We have to await information from the inquiry."
Photos from the scene showed that the metal beam supporting the elevated tracks had plummeted to the avenue below. Still apparently intact were a pair of cement columns supporting the overpass, which was between two Line 12 Metro stations, Olivos and Tezonco.
Hours after the accident, footage appeared to show at least one Metro car dangling precariously from the collapsed overpass, and it was unclear whether there were victims still inside the suspended train or in at least one vehicle trapped on the roadway.
Authorities temporarily halted rescue operations at about midnight as officials sought to bring in a crane to stabilize the scene.
At least 23 people were killed and dozens more hospitalized when a railway overpass and train collapsed onto a busy road in Mexico City, crushing cars under fallen carriages and rubble https://t.co/QDuA0fGnZM pic.twitter.com/OAoHIWzcXQ— Reuters (@Reuters) May 4, 2021
Relatives of passengers believed to have been on the train rushed to the site and to area hospitals in search of missing loved ones.
Line 12, also known as the Golden Line, was inaugurated in 2012. The newest line in the Mexico City Metro system, it's an essential part of the transportation network in a metropolitan area that is home to more than 20 million people. The Mexico City Metro, which began operations in 1969, is among the world's busiest, carrying some 4 million passengers daily on workdays, both in the city and in suburban areas.
Line 12, which includes both underground and elevated sections, has been the subject of complaints of shoddy construction for years. The city suspended much of the elevated portion of Line 12 in 2014 to review its safety and make any needed repairs. The entire line was reopened more than a year and a half later, but questions remained about its safety.
The mayor at the time of the line's inauguration was Marcelo Ebrard, who is currently the foreign minister in the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Monday's disaster seems certain to raise new questions about Ebrard's role in the construction of Line 12.
In a Twitter message, Ebrard called Monday's incident "a terrible tragedy," sent condolences to the families of the victims and said he was at investigators' full disposal.
Monday's crash appeared to the be deadliest accident on the Mexico City Metro since a collision of two trains Oct. 20, 1975, killed 31 and injured 70. About four months ago, a fire in a Metro substation left one person dead and 29 injured, and disrupted service for weeks.
In March 2020, a crash in the Tacubaya station killed one person and injured 41.
Special correspondent Liliana Nieto del Río contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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