At least 23 people have been killed and 65 hospitalised when a rail overpass collapsed in Mexico City, sending a train crashing down onto cars below.
Rescue efforts for potential survivors were briefly paused at the overpass of the metro’s 12 line shortly after the accident on Monday night, with authorities saying there was a risk that more train parts and debris could slam down onto the road.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said a crane was being transported to the site to stabilise the train carriages so rescuers could resume their work.
Sheinbaum said seven of the people transported to hospital were in a “grave condition” and undergoing surgery.
“There are unfortunately children among the dead,” Sheinbaum said, without specifying how many. “A support beam gave way” just as the train passed over it, she added.
A video on local channel Milenio TV showed the structure plummeting onto a stream of cars near Olivos station in the southeast of the city at about 10:30pm local time (03:30 GMT on Tuesday), sending up clouds of dust and rubble.
Other images showed at least two train carriages precariously hanging from the damaged overpass as emergency fire and medical crews initially used ladders to access the carriages.
A crane was working to hold up one subway car left dangling on the collapsed section so that emergency workers could enter to check a car that was crushed to see if anyone was still trapped.
Friends and relatives of victims of the metro bridge collapse waited for news of their loved ones early Tuesday, but many feared the worst. “My brother is still under the rubble,” one man said.
Police kept people away from the immediate site of the disaster where rescue teams were working.
Oscar Lopez – a friend of one of the missing Adriana Salas, 26, a woman six months pregnant – said she was talking on the phone with her mother on the train when contact was suddenly lost.
“I talked to her when she left work, she was in contact by messages… The police and paramedics don’t tell us anything,” said Lopez.
The metro’s 12 line was built when Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was the mayor of Mexico City.
“What happened today with the Metro is a terrible tragedy. My solidarity with the victims and their families,” Ebrard said on Twitter.
“Of course the causes must be investigated and responsibilities defined. I reiterate I am at the disposal of authorities to help in whatever is necessary.”
Ebrard and Sheinbaum are seen by many political observers as the most likely successors to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador once his six-year term is over in 2024.
The Mexico City Metro, one of the largest and busiest in the world, has had at least two serious accidents since its inauguration half a century ago.
In March of last year, a collision between two trains at the Tacubaya station left one passenger dead and injured 41 people. In 2015, a train that did not stop on time crashed into another at the Oceania station, injuring 12 people.