At least 55 migrants are dead and over 100 more are injured after a horrific truck crash near Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, on Thursday afternoon.
A tractor-trailer transporting more than 150 mainly Central American migrants overturned on the Chiapa de Corzo-Tuxtla Gutiérrez highway at approximately 3:30 p.m. as it rounded a curve at high speed.
The trailer became detached from the tractor unit and overturned while the tractor unit crashed into the base of a pedestrian overpass.
Forty-nine migrants were reported dead at the scene of the accident while six more sustained serious injuries and died in hospital. Most of those killed were Guatemalans, authorities said.
Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón said that 105 other people – 83 men and 22 women – were injured, and at least three were in serious condition. Children were among the injured.
The federal Attorney General’s Office said it will conduct an investigation into the crash. The truck passed through a state police checkpoint just 500 meters before it crashed but was not stopped despite officers having infrared cameras that could have detected the presence of people in its trailer.
Photographs and video footage showed shocking scenes in the aftermath of the accident, with scores of bodies and badly injured people lying on or next to the highway. Some motorists provided first aid and other assistance as they waited for emergency services to arrive.
The truck driver fled the scene and reportedly sought assistance in a nearby mechanic’s workshop. “He stopped at the door and asked us to go and help those injured in an accident a few minutes from here,” a worker told the newspaper Reforma.
“I thought he would follow me to help but he went in the direction of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.”
Some migrants who survived the accident also fled the scene, fearful that they would be detained by immigration authorities.
However, the National Immigration Institute said it would offer shelter, food and humanitarian visas to the survivors.
President López Obrador and his Guatemalan counterpart Alejandro Giammattei offered their condolences to the families of the victims.
“I deeply regret the tragedy caused by the overturning of a tractor-trailer that was transporting Central American migrants in Chiapas. It’s very painful. A hug to the families of the victims,” López Obrador wrote on Twitter.
The porous border between Chiapas and Guatemala is the main entry point for Central American migrants seeking to reach the United States. Near record numbers of migrants have entered Mexico this year, and many pay smugglers to transport them to the northern border.
In October, federal authorities found 652 migrants hidden in the refrigerated containers of three trucks traveling in Tamaulipas, while more than 100 migrants who had been traveling in suffocating conditions in a semitrailer were abandoned on a highway in southern Veracruz in June.
Thursday’s tragedy came a month to the day after 12 migrants were killed when two transit vans collided on the Palenque-Playas de Catazajá highway in Chiapas.