Fifty-four people, largely Central Americans, were murdered when their truck toppled over in southern Mexico on Thursday, in one of the deadliest catastrophes involving migrants risking their lives to reach the United States.
According to video footage of the incident and civil protection officials, the trailer ripped apart, spilling passengers, after the truck collided on a hairpin bend near the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez in the state of Chiapas.
Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandon stated that 49 persons perished at the spot and five more died while obtaining medical treatment.
“It took a turn, and because of the weight of us people inside, we all went with it,” a shocked-looking Guatemalan guy seated at the site stated in social media footage.
“The trailer was unable to support the weight of individuals.”
According to officials, there were more than 100 individuals inside the trailer. Several dozen people were hurt and sent to hospitals in Chiapas, Mexico, which borders Guatemala. Dozens of Guatemalan migrants were listed in injury lists circulated on social media.
As rescue officials hurried to the location where the crashed truck came to a rest by a highway footbridge, a Reuters witness heard gasps and weeping among survivors.
Images obtained by Reuters showed a white trailer on its side, with injured individuals sprawled on tarps on the ground. Rows of what appeared to be bodies wrapped in white cloth were also visible.
A social media video of the situation showed a mother with a toddler weeping in her lap, both drenched in blood. Another video showed a man curled up in anguish inside the wrecked trailer, hardly moving as rescuers approached.
Men, women, and children were among those killed, according to the Chiapas state administration, and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador extended his condolences on Twitter for the “extremely terrible” occurrence.
‘THIS IS NOT THE BEST WAY’
Migrants escaping poverty and violence in Central America often travel via Mexico to the United States, sometimes cramming into enormous trucks organized by traffickers in exceedingly unsafe conditions.
After the disaster, Kevin Lopez, a spokesperson for Guatemala’s presidency, told Milenio television, “This teaches us that unauthorized migration is not the best approach.”
He had no idea how many Guatemalans had died.
Alexandra Hill, El Salvador’s foreign minister, said her ministry was investigating if Salvadorans had perished.
Mexico gave survivors housing and humanitarian visas, while Chiapas Governor Escandon stated that those responsible for the catastrophe will be held accountable.
Mexican authorities often come find migrants crammed inside trailers, including 600 individuals discovered last month in the back of two trucks in eastern Mexico.
The trek north from Mexico’s border with Guatemala is dangerous and expensive, and many migrants are victims of criminal groups along the way. In northern Mexico in January, 19 individuals, largely migrants, were massacred with probable police participation.
This year, a record number of individuals have been apprehended at the US-Mexico border as migrants try to take advantage of President Joe Biden’s vow to implement more humanitarian immigration policies than his harsh predecessor, Donald Trump.
Mexican officials in Chiapas have sought to encourage migrants not to organize caravans and walk thousands of kilometers to the United States border, and have begun removing individuals from the region.
The Biden administration has also advised migrants not to leave their home countries for the United States, and this week saw the resumption of a Trump-era policy of returning asylum claimants to Mexico to await court hearings.
Some opponents believe that stricter rules force refugees into the hands of human traffickers, endangering their lives.
“(Authorities) create smuggled migration, which produces billions of dollars in revenues,” migrant campaigner Ruben Figueroa said.