An elevated section of the Mexico City Metro collapsed and sent a car plunging toward a busy boulevard late on Monday, killing at least 23 people and injuring about 70, city officials said.
A crane was working to hold up one car left dangling on the collapsed section so that emergency workers could enter to check the car to see if anyone was still trapped.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said 49 of the injured were hospitalized, and that seven were in serious condition and undergoing surgery.
Sheinbaum said a motorist had been pulled alive from a vehicle that was trapped on the roadway below.
Dozens of rescuers continued searching through wreckage from the collapsed, preformed concrete structure.
“There are unfortunately children among the dead,” Sheinbaum said, without specifying how many.
The overpass was about 5m above the road in the borough of Tlahuac, but the train ran above a concrete median strip, which apparently lessened the casualties among motorists on the road below.
“A support beam gave way,” Sheinbaum said, adding that the beam collapsed just as the train passed over it.
Rescue efforts were briefly interrupted at midnight because the partially dangling train was “very weak.”
“We don’t know if they are alive,” Sheinbaum said of people possibly trapped inside the car.
Hundreds of police officers and firefighters cordoned off the scene, as desperate friends and relatives of people believed to be on the trains gathered outside the security perimeter.
Oscar Lopez, 26, was searching for his friend, Adriana Salas, 26.
Six months pregnant, she was riding the metro home from her work as a dentist when her phone stopped answering at about the time the accident occurred.
“We lost contact with her, at 10:50pm, there was literally no more contact,” Lopez said.
With little information and a still serious COVID-19 outbreak in Mexico City, Lopez said: “They are not telling us anything, and people are just crowding together.”
The collapse occurred on the newest of the capital’s metro lines, Line 12, which stretches far into the south of the city. Like many of the city’s dozen lines, it runs underground through more central areas of the city of 9 million, but then runs on elevated, preformed concrete structures on the outskirts.
The collapse could represent a major blow for Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard, who was Mexico City’s mayor from 2006 to 2012, when Line 12 was built.
Allegations about poor design and construction on the line emerged soon after Ebrard left office. The line had to be partly closed in 2013 so the tracks could be repaired.
“What happened today on the Metro is a terrible tragedy,” Ebrard wrote on Twitter. “Of course, the causes should be investigated and those responsible should be identified. I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary.”
It was not clear whether a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in 2017 could have affected the line.
The Mexico City Metro, one of the largest and busiest in the world, has had at least two serious accidents since its inauguration in 1969.
In March last year, a collision between two trains at Tacubaya Station left one passenger dead and 41 injured. In 2015, a train that did not stop on time crashed into another at Oceania Station, injuring 12 people.
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