Migrant truck crash in Mexico kills more than 50

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Mexico – The Guatemalan teenager had been wrapped up with more than 150 fellow migrants for hours, he said, stuck in r...

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Mexico – The Guatemalan teenager had been wrapped up with more than 150 fellow migrants for hours, he said, stuck in rows of six, some sitting, others standing, some suffocated by the southern heat from Mexico.

Then the high-speed semi-trailer started to fishtail uncontrollably, teenager Esvin Chipel Tzoy said. Within seconds the vehicle overturned and crashed, the deadliest day-long disaster in many years for Central American migrants attempting the perilous route through Mexico to the United States .

Mexican officials said at least 54 people were killed and 106 hospitalized in Thursday’s crash. They attributed the disaster to excessive speed and said the driver, who might have gone unnoticed at immigration checkpoints, escaped after the crash.

Interviews with survivors, witnesses and one of the first medics who rushed into the crash on Friday depicted a scene of mutilated metal, vomit, puddles of blood and dust covering the bodies of migrants piled into each other. on the others on the highway and what was left of the tractor-trailer.

Mr. Chipel said the semi-trailer started to rock from side to side, then heard a loud boom, as if the brakes had failed, followed by the screech of metal as the trailer tipped. Then came the cries of other passengers, including children.

Not far behind, 17-year-old Melody Ramírez Moreno was perched behind her husband on a motorcycle when they saw the semi-trailer pitch precariously. Her husband braked, but the front wheel of the bike started to twist, she said, as her foot got stuck and mutilated in the rear wheel.

“The only thing I could hear was the screams, the wails, the screams of the people in the truck,” she said. “It all happened in the blink of an eye. “

The trailer overturned, crashed into a pedestrian overpass, separated and dispersed a mass of bodies on the highway, including Mr. Chipel himself.

“I couldn’t breathe,” Mr. Chipel said, remembering how his nostrils filled with blood and dust. “I thought I was dying.”

Mr. Chipel was among the luckiest, with only a broken wrist and a few cuts and scrapes.

The injured migrants, mostly from Guatemala like Mr. Chipel, were being treated in hospitals around Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state capital on Friday.

Mr Chipel said he left his hometown in Guatemala on Sunday and tried to travel to the United States in hopes of finding work and supporting his aging parents, who disapproved of his decision to leave. .

“In Guatemala, you cannot move forward,” he said. “I wanted to make this American dream come true.”

A paramedic who was among the first to arrive at the scene of the crash, Luis Eduardo Hernández Trejo, 21, said he could immediately tell that many of the victims were lifeless, especially those still trapped in the inside the wreck.

“They were all corpses,” he said.

Realizing the gravity, Hernández said he called for reinforcements and sought to identify the injured who needed the most urgent help.

The total number of occupants in the semi-trailer is not known. Some survivors, bleeding and limping, fled the scene to avoid possible arrest by immigration police in Chiapas, which borders Guatemala.

The accident made clear the increasingly perilous journey people across Latin America endure to reach the border with the United States, risking ruthless criminal cartels, corrupt police officers and hostile terrain to have a better life. .

After helping with triage, Mr Hernández said he was called by an immigration officer to treat a migrant who tried to escape to a nearby house but started to feel unwell.

Two other young migrants had tried to flee the scene in the direction of a nearby river, one of them with a cut to the head.

“He was scared,” Hernández said. “He thought we were with the government.

He also remembers seeing a young mother with her baby sitting by the side of the road, blood dripping from a head injury. The baby, who survived, was the only infant in the truck, according to Hernández.

Residents nearby offered their support, he said, bringing in supplies like cotton balls and alcohol to help paramedics treat the injured.

“It was a tragic incident,” Hernández said. “People were trying to get to America for a better life. “

Heavily armed National Guard troops surrounded the crash site, twisted debris from the overturned truck and the bodies of the victims long removed. The only telltale signs of the day before were red streaks of dried blood on the road and a makeshift memorial of candles and fruit.

“It is a feeling of deep sadness just to think of the number of destroyed, torn families,” said Giovanni Lepri, representative of the United Nations refugee agency in Mexico. At the same time, he said, “It is horrible to think that 54 or more people unfortunately had to die to give so much visibility to something that is happening every day.”

The accident caused the worst one-day death toll among migrants in Mexico since 2010 massacre of 72 migrants by the Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

The gravity can have political implications, underscoring the desperate and dangerous actions migrants are taking, even as the governments of Mexico and the United States try to stop the flow north.

The US government has implemented a series of policies in recent years taking a tougher approach to deter migrants. Officials in the Biden administration have repeatedly told them explicitly not to come.

“I am saddened to see the tragic loss of life and injuries of migrants traveling to Chiapas,” said US Ambassador Ken Salazar. on Twitter Thursday night. “The smugglers ignore human life for their own gain. Please do not risk your life to migrate irregularly.

Under former President Donald J. Trump, Washington immediately began returning scores of migrants detained under an obscure health code known as Title 42, while forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their case to be tried in US courts, a program known as Remain in Mexico. Both policies were maintained under the Biden administration.

The US government has also increasingly relied on Mexico to detain and deport migrants. In October, Mexican authorities detained more than 220,000 undocumented migrants this year, the highest number on record.

Efforts on both sides of the border have had some impact: apprehensions at Mexico’s northern border, which reached a record level earlier this year, began to decline.

However, as governments step up their deterrence efforts, migrants have wanted more and more dangerous means evading checkpoints set up by Mexican authorities, paying high prices to smugglers to pile up inside trucks and trailers and thus gain a greater possibility of avoiding detection.

This year has already been the deadliest for migrants at the US border since 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration, which said this week 650 people have died trying to cross so far in 2021 – the toll highest since IOM started keeping records. .

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Newsrust - US Top News: Migrant truck crash in Mexico kills more than 50
Migrant truck crash in Mexico kills more than 50
Newsrust - US Top News
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