In one of the busiest subway systems in the world, an elevated section of the city’s metro has collapsed, sending a subway car plummeting toward a busy boulevard late in the evening on May 3. So far, it has been reported that the collapse killed at least 23 people, and injured approximately 70, in one of the deadliest accidents ever to occur in the Mexico City subway system.
Rescuers initially began searching a car that was left dangling from the overpass, hoping to extract anyone who had been trapped. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns for people working near the precariously hanging car, search efforts were suspended in the early hours of May 4. A crane has been brought in to stabilize the car.
“We don’t know if they are alive,” Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said, referring to the people that may be trapped inside the car.
Earlier in a statement about the accident, Sheinbaum noted that someone had been pulled from a car trapped on the road below, and was still alive. She also announced that 49 of the injured were hospitalized, seven of whom were in serious condition and undergoing surgery.
“There are unfortunately children among the dead,” Sheinbaum said, without specifying the number of children.
The overpass was approximately 16 feet above the road in the Mexico City borough of Tlahuac. The train was supported with a concrete median strip, which helped lessen the casualties of people driving on the road below.
“A support beam gave way” as the train passed over it, according to Sheinbaum.
The scene of the collapse was roped off as hundreds of police officers and firefighters try to keep the public away from the area. Desperate friends and relatives of possible accident victims have gathered in the area, hoping to hear news of their loved ones.
Allegations of poor design and construction on the subway line emerged soon after former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who is now the country’s Foreign Relations secretary, left office. Ebrard was mayor during the construction of subway Line 12, the line where the collapse occurred. This may pose a significant threat to Ebrard’s political career, as he is widely considered to be a potential presidential candidate in Mexico’s 2024 elections.
“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,” he continued. “I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary.”
According to The Associated Press, “It was not clear whether a 7.1-magnitude earthquake in 2017 could have affected the subway line.”