A Mexico City metro overpass collapsed on a busy road below Monday evening, killing at least 27 people, including children, authorities said. More than 60 people were injured.
Photos and videos from the scene showed mutilated wagons hanging from the collapsed viaduct and rescuers searching for and transporting the injured on stretchers.
“A support beam gave way,” Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said at the scene. She said the beam collapsed just as the train passed over it. The accident happened on Line 12 near Olivos station in the southeast of the city at around 10:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. ET).
The mayor, wearing a helmet and face mask, told reporters at the site that 65 people had been taken to hospital and seven were in serious condition.
The Mexican Civil Protection Agency later published an updated list of victims Tuesday morning, showing that at least 79 people had been taken to hospitals in the area, including two 15-year-old women and a 17-year-old man.
Mexican flags on all government buildings were hoisted at half mast in mourning for the victims.
Sheinbaum said earlier that one of the victims was in a car under the collapsed viaduct and lived in a hospital. Rescue teams also recovered at least four bodies from the railroad car, she said.
A crane was being used to hold the train back so that rescuers could continue working, she said. Among the dead, some are children, Sheinbaum said without specifying a number.
Alfonso, a local resident, told NBC’s sister network Telemundo that he heard a screeching cry on Monday evening. “I even thought it was a car that had collided here, but no, I got out and saw the scene,” he said.
As the Mexican Civil Protection Agency began to share lists of the injured, friends and relatives of the missing awaited more news from their loved ones, but many feared the worst.
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Gisela del Ocaso, 43, told Telemundo she was looking for her husband, Miguel Angel Espinosa Flores, who was on the train.
Del Ocaso arrived at the scene within 30 minutes of the collapse and had not heard from her husband since. “I don’t know what to do,” she said. “We are desperate. I have two children.
Calls for an investigation amid security issues
Sheinbaum confirmed on Tuesday that experts from federal justice in Mexico who will help the city with an investigation “find out exactly what happened and what are the causes.”
“My position is that we have to reach for the truth,” Sheinbaum said. “We need federal justice experts as well as an outside and impartial team to conduct the investigation and all the reports that need to be made and uncover the truth.” A Norwegian company will be responsible for the external investigation, she said.
Speaking at his regular press conference, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the investigation must be carried out quickly and nothing will be hidden from the Mexican people.
The accident raised questions about safety in one of the busiest metro systems in the world. It spans a vast urban sprawl and is home to some 20 million people, transporting around 6 million people per day.
This is the second serious accident in Mexico City’s metro this year after a fire broke out in the control center on January 9 – killing one person, intoxicating dozens of workers and shutting down several lines for weeks.
At least two other serious incidents have been reported in the vicinity of the capital since the inauguration of the metro 50 years ago. Two trains collided at Tacubaya station last year, killing one and injuring 41 others. Another train collision in 2015 injured 12 people at the Oceania station.
Line 12, where the last accident took place, is one of the most recent lines added to Mexico City’s metro system. Its construction began in 2006 when the Secretary for External Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, was the mayor of Mexico City.
Allegations of design flaws and poor construction of the metro line surfaced shortly after Ebrard resigned as mayor. The line had to be partially closed in 2013 and 2014 in order to repair the tracks, Telemundo reported.
“What happened today in the metro is a terrible tragedy. My solidarity with the victims and their families,” said Ebrard, considered a potential candidate for the 2024 presidential elections, tweeted Monday.
“Of course, we must investigate the cause and determine the responsibility. I reiterate to all authorities my total willingness to contribute whatever is necessary,” he wrote.
It is not known if the 7.1 earthquake that rocked Mexico in 2017 also caused damage that contributed to the collapse of Line 12.
Following the devastating earthquake, residents of the area surrounding the line reported seeing cracks and falling debris, especially on the columns connecting the stations of Olivos and Nopalera, which had previously been closed for repair. The section that connects Olivos station to another nearby station, Tezonco, is the one that collapsed on Monday night.
At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Sheinbaum said officials would release a structural review carried out last year on Line 12 as part of their ongoing maintenance process.
At the time, no expert in charge of the review alerted anyone to the possible dangers, Sheinbaum said.
“If there had been a sinking point or anything like that, it would have been reported immediately,” she said. “What happened here was a beam that fell in the area …. The cause of this fall is what we are trying to find out.”
Michelle Acevedo, Sara mhaidli, Daniela Mencos, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed.