An overhead subway platform collapsed in Mexico City, killing at least 23 people, including children, and injuring at least 79, as train cars came crashing down onto cars in the street below.
The incident took place late on Monday. Around seven of the injured were in critical condition and had to undergo surgery, according to authorities in the city. Of those injured, 77 were taken to hospital.
Emergency personnel were able to rescue one person alive from one of the vehicles trapped on the road. The mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, said they didn’t know the state of many of those still caught in the wreckage at the site of the collapse.
“We don’t know if they are alive. There are unfortunately children among the dead,” she said according to the Associated Press.
Emergency workers discovered four bodies trapped in a subway car hanging from the overpass but were unable to remove them. It’s unclear if they are included in the number of deaths. On Tuesday, a crane was taken to the scene to lower the dangling subway car down.
Ms Sheinbaum said a concrete beam broke as the train passed over it. The incident is one of the deadliest in the history of Mexico City, which has one of the most hectic subway systems in the world.
Line 12, like many other lines in the system, runs underground in the centre of the city but above ground as it stretches out into the outskirts of the city.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the incident was “the most terrible accident we have ever had in mass transportation”. He was the city’s mayor between 2006 and 2012, a time during which the subway line in question was constructed. The collapse could present a major problem for Mr Ebrard.
He wrote on Twitter: “What happened today on the Metro is a terrible tragedy. Of course, the causes should be investigated and those responsible should be identified. I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary.”
Ms Sheinbaum said: “The cause of the collapse of the beam must be established through an expert investigation.”
Many political commentators say that Mr Ebrard and Ms Sheinbaum are among the most likely successors to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador when his six-year term ends in 2024, Reuters reported.
The overhead passage was around five metres [16ft] above the roadway in Tlahuac, a southeastern borough of Mexico City. The train ran above a concrete median in the road, which likely led to fewer deaths on the ground.
Since its start in 1969, the Mexico City Metro has had at least two serious accident. With tickets at around 25 cents [18p], the system has some of the lowest fares in the world and shuttled around 4.6 million people around the city every day before the pandemic struck.
The system is the second largest in North America, coming in second only after New York City. A collision between two trains in March 2020 killed one and injured 41, while a train crashing into another at a station injured 12 in 2015.
People crowded around the crash site despite the perilous pandemic situation in the country as police officers and firefighters shut down access to the scene.
Adrián Loa Martínez said that his mother called him to say that a beam fell onto the car of his half-brother and sister-in-law when the overpass collapsed.
The 46-year-old told reporters that his sister-in-law was sent to a hospital, but his half-brother José Juan Galindo was crushed. Mr Martínez worried that Mr Galindo might have died. “He is down there now,” he told reporters as he pointed toward the site of the collapse.