Migrant truck crashes in Mexico killing 54

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Fifty-four, mostly Central Americans, died Thursday when the truck they were traveling in overturned in southern Mexico, in one of the worst accidents involving migrants risking their lives. lives to get to the United States. .

The trailer was opened, spilling people, when the truck collided in a sharp curve on the outskirts of the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez in the state of Chiapas, according to video images of the aftermath and civil protection authorities.

Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón said 49 people died at the scene and five more while receiving medical attention.

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“It took a curve, and due to the weight of the people inside, we all did it,” said a Guatemalan man with an astonished expression sitting at the scene in images broadcast on social networks.

“The trailer could not support the weight of the people.”

More than 100 people were inside the trailer, authorities said. Several dozen were injured and transferred to hospitals in Chiapas, which borders Guatemala. Dozens of Guatemalan migrants were named on lists of wounded posted on social media.

A Reuters witness heard screams and sobs from survivors as emergency personnel rushed to the spot where the overturned truck pulled up alongside a highway pedestrian bridge.

The Reuters footage showed a white trailer on its side, with injured people sprawled on tarps on the ground. There were also rows of what appeared to be bodies wrapped in white cloth.

A video of the scene broadcast on social media showed a woman with a crying child on her lap, both covered in blood. Another video showed a man huddled in pain inside the destroyed trailer, barely moving as helpers removed the bodies.

Men, women and children were among the dead, the Chiapas state government said, and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Twitter expressed his regret over the “very painful” incident.


A police officer raises his arm to block photographers to avoid taking pictures at the scene of a trailer accident that left at least 49 people dead, most of them migrants from Central America, in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, December 9 of 2021. REUTERS / Jacob García

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America often cross Mexico to reach the US border, sometimes crowding into large trucks organized by smugglers in extremely dangerous conditions.

“This shows us that irregular migration is not the best way,” Kevin López, a spokesman for the Guatemalan presidency, told Milenio television after the accident.

He did not know how many Guatemalan victims there were.

El Salvador’s Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill said her government was working to see if Salvadorans had died.

Mexico offered shelter and humanitarian visas to the survivors, and Chiapas Governor Escandón said those responsible for the accident would be held accountable.

Officials in Mexico routinely come across migrants packed into trailers, including 600 people who were found hiding in the back of two trucks in eastern Mexico last month.

The journey north from the Mexico-Guatemala border is dangerous and expensive, and many migrants are victims of criminal gangs along the way. In January, 19 people, mostly migrants, were massacred with alleged police involvement in northern Mexico.

This year, a record number of people have been arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border as migrants seek to capitalize on President Joe Biden’s promise to pursue more humane immigration policies than his hardline predecessor, Donald Trump.

Mexican authorities in Chiapas have tried to persuade migrants not to form caravans to walk thousands of miles to the US border and have begun transporting people from the southern city of Tapachula to other regions of the country.

The Biden administration has also urged migrants not to leave their home countries for the United States, and this week saw the restart of a policy started under Trump to send asylum seekers back to Mexico to await their court hearings. .

Some critics argue that the stricter policies push migrants into the hands of human smugglers, putting their lives at risk.

“(The authorities) generate a smuggling migration that generates billions of dollars in profits,” said migrant activist Rubén Figueroa.

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Report by Jacob García; Additional information from José Torres, Lizbeth Díaz, Noe Torres and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Written by Daina Beth Solomon; Edited by Aurora Ellis, Dave Graham and Robert Birsel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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