Six killed in Mexico migrant train derailment

US-bound migrants killed after cargo train derails in Tabasco state

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 August, 2013, 10:47am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 4:08am


A cargo train carrying US-bound migrants derailed in a remote and swampy area of southeastern Mexico on Sunday, killing at least six people and injuring several more, officials said.

The train known as “The Beast,” which carries Central American migrants who pay smugglers to sit atop freight cars, careened off the track near a river in Tabasco state before dawn, causing eight freight cars to derail, official said.

National civil protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said on his Twitter account that 18 people were taken to hospitals, including 17 from Honduras and one from Guatemala, all aged 19 to 54. He had said earlier that 22 people were injured.

Security and civil protection officials in the municipality of Huimanguillo said 250 to 300 people were aboard the train when it crashed at a site far from any road and only accessible by air or boat.

A Tabasco government spokesman said that four of the dead were from Honduras.

Tabasco civil protection director Cesar Burelo told Milenio television that the injured were taken to the regional hospital of Las Choapas in the neighbouring state of Veracruz, which is 25 minutes away by boat.

The cause of the accident was not yet known, he said, adding that the train was also carrying scrap metal. Mexican media said the train may have been traveling too fast amid heavy rain.

“The Beast” carries Mexican and Central American migrants who pay smugglers upwards of US$100 for the right to travel from stations near Guatemala to the north of Mexico.

Eight of the train’s 12 freight cars overturned at around 3am, state officials said. Rescuers used hydraulic tools to cut through the metal to find survivors.

Burelo said cranes will be needed to lift the wagons, which could lead to discoveries of more fatalities.

Local media showed pictures of freight cars lying on their side with the wheels detached from the bottom. The tracks are seen in a wooded area and covered with plants.

At least two of the injured were transported lying on the wooden flatbed of a handcar - a small four-wheeled railroad vehicle - according to a picture posted on Twitter by Tabasco civil protection.

President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and his foreign ministry said it was providing information to Central American embassies.

Some 140,000 migrants enter Mexico illegally every year to travel to the United States, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

Migrants are exposed to many risks in their trek across Mexico.

Traffickers charge huge sums to help them cross the border and, once in Mexico, gangs extort them for more money. They are often robbed, raped and killed by criminal groups.

President Enrique Pena Nieto unveiled a US$309 billion plan in July to modernise the country’s infrastructure, including by reviving the nation’s moribund passenger train service.