An elevated section of the Mexico City metro collapsed and sent the train plunging towards a busy boulevard late on Monday, killing at least 23 people and injuring at least 79, city officials said.
Rescuers found four bodies trapped inside a rail carriage that was dangling from the overpass but were unable to remove them. It was not clear if those dead were included among the 23. A crane was brought in on Tuesday to lower the carriage.
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 terrible accident we have ever had in mass transportation”. Ebrard was Mexico City’s mayor from 2006 to 2012, when the line in question was built, and the collapse could represent a major blow for him.
“The cause of the collapse of the beam must be established through an expert investigation,” Sheinbaum said.
Earlier she said someone had been pulled alive from a car that was trapped on the road below. She said 77 of the injured were hospitalised. She also said children were among the dead.
The overpass was about five metres (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.
The Mexico City Metro – which is among the world’s cheapest with tickets costing about 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 the Tacubaya station left one passenger dead and injured 41 people. In 2015, a train that did not stop on time crashed into another at the Oceania station, injuring 12.
Hundreds of police officers and firefighters cordoned off the scene overnight as desperate friends and 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 crowded together as they waited for news.