TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico (AP) — A cargo truck jammed with people who appeared to be Central American migrants rolled over and crashed into a pedestrian bridge over a highway in southern Mexico on Thursday, killing at least 53 people and injuring dozens more, authorities reported.

The federal Attorney General’s Office said the preliminary estimate lists 53 dead, with three of the injured in critical condition.

Luis Manuel Moreno from the Chiapas State Civil Defense Office stated that about 21 victims sustained serious injuries. They were then taken to local hospitals.

It occurred along a highway that leads to the capital of Chiapas. Photos from the scene showed victims strewn across the pavement and inside the truck’s freight compartment.

Video footage revealed that the migrants, both dead and infirm, were gathered into one pile within the container’s collapsed cargo box. Many struggled to get out of the heavy bodies.

Later rescue workers laid out the deceased in rows of sheets on the asphalt.

Although the nationality of these victims was not confirmed, it seemed that they were Central America-based immigrants. Moreno said that several survivors claimed to be from Guatemala, a neighboring country.

Celso Pacheco from Guatemala, who was sitting on the sidewalk next to the overturned trailer said that it felt as if the truck was speeding. Then the truck lost control because of the sheer weight of all the migrants.

Pacheco stated that there were immigrants from Guatemala and Honduras onboard and estimated there to be eight to ten young children. Although he claimed he tried to get to the United States by traveling, he now expects to be sent back to Guatemala.

Rescuers tried to rescue survivors from the heap of human remains in the trailer and separated the living from the dead. The wreckage was scattered with dazed victims.

Marco Antonio Sánchez, director of the Chiapas Firefighter Institute, said ambulances raced victims to three hospitals, carrying three to four injured each. When there weren’t enough ambulances they loaded them into pickup trucks, he said.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei wrote on Twitter: “I deeply regret the tragedy in Chiapas state, and I express my solidarity for the victims’ families, to whom we will offer all the necessary consular assistance, including repatriation.”

Moreno said that it appeared that speed and the weight of the truck’s human cargo may have caused it to tip over, and that as the vehicle toppled over it hit the base of a steel pedestrian bridge. The accident site was near a bend in the road that could have caused the crash.

This meant that at most 107 people had been packed into the car. This is typical for Mexican freight trucks to carry so many migrants through southern Mexico.

However, rescue workers on the spot who weren’t authorized to quote their names said that many more migrants were aboard the truck at the time it crashed. They fled in fear for being detained or arrested by immigration agents.

According to one paramedic, some people who fled into the surrounding areas were bruised or bloody but still managed to get away from their desperate situation.

It was originally a closed cargo module that transported perishable goods. Impact force smashed the container open. The driver was not able to survive the impact.

Those who spoke to survivors said the migrants told of boarding the truck in Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, and of paying between $2,500 and $3,500 to be transported to Mexico’s central state of Puebla. Once they got there, it is possible that they had arranged to be taken to the U.S. by another pair of migrant-smugglers.

Mexican authorities tried to stop migrants walking together towards the U.S. border in recent months but illegal migrant smuggling continues.

The largest bust in recent history was made by authorities in Tamaulipas’ northern border state. In October, 652 mostly Central American migrants were found jammed in six freight trucks traveling toward the U.S. Border.

Irineo Mujica, an activist who is leading a march of a couple of hundred migrants who have been walking for more almost 1 1/2 months across southern Mexico, blamed Mexico’s policies of cracking down on migrant caravans for the disaster.

Mujica had nearly reached Mexico City’s outskirts by Thursday after months of struggle with National Guard personnel who attempted to block their march. Mujica stated that the group would make a stop on Thursday to offer prayers and support for those who had lost their loved ones.

“These policies that kill us, that murder us, is what leads to this type of tragedy,” Mujica said.

These are in fact two completely different groups. Caravans generally attract migrants who don’t have the thousands of dollars needed to pay migrant smugglers.

Migrants involved in serious accidents are often allowed to stay in Mexico at least temporarily because they are considered witnesses to and victims of a crime, and later Thursday Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said it would offer the humanitarian visas to the survivors.

According to the agency, the Mexican government will help in identifying the deceased and pay funeral expenses or return their remains.

Mass deaths of migrants are something that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been desperate to avoid, even as his administration has accepted requests from the U.S. government to stem the flow of migrants moving north. “It is very painful,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

It was one the most tragic single-day deaths of migrants in Mexico since 72 migrants were massacred by Zetas, a drug cartel from the north state of Tamaulipas.

Source: HuffPost.com.

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