At least 55 people dead after truck carrying migrants crashes in Mexico

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At least 55 people are dead after a lorry loaded with as many as 200 migrants tipped over and crashed into the base of a steel pedestrian bridge in southern Mexico.

In addition to the 54 killed on Thursday evening, at least 52 were injured.

It was one of the deadliest days for migrants in Mexico since the 2010 massacre of 72 people by the Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

The most severely injured from the accident were carried to plastic sheets on the road. Those who could walk were led, stunned, to the same sheets. Ambulances, cars and pick-up trucks were pressed into ferrying the injured to hospitals.

Later, the dead were covered in white sheets, side by side, on the road.

Rescue workers who first arrived said other migrants who had been on the truck when it crashed had fled for fear of being detained by immigration agents.

One paramedic said some of those who hurried into surrounding neighbourhoods were bloodied or bruised but still limped away in their desperation to escape.

About 200 migrants may have been packed into the truck, said Guatemala’s top human rights official, Jordan Rodas. That number is not unusual for migrant smuggling operations in Mexico, and the weight of the load — combined with speed and a nearby curve — may have been enough to throw the truck off balance, authorities said.

Luis Manuel Moreno, head of the Chiapas state civil defence office, said about 21 were seriously injured and were taken to hospitals. The federal Attorney General’s Office said three were critically injured in the crash, which happened on a road leading from the Guatemalan border toward the Chiapas state capital.

Marco Antonio Sanchez, director of the Chiapas Firefighter Institute, said ambulances brought victims to three hospitals, three or four at a time. When there were not enough ambulances, they loaded them into pick-up trucks, he said.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei tweeted: “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.”

Pope Francis, who visited Chiapas in 2015, sent a telegram of condolences Friday to the archbishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez, offering prayers for the dead and their families, and for the injured.

The truck had originally been a closed freight module of the kind used to carry perishable goods. The container was smashed open by the impact. It was unclear if the driver survived.

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