- Marcos Gonzalez Diaz
- BBC News Mundo correspondent in Mexico
Just over five minutes on foot separate the two main places where pain and indignation were mixed in equal parts this Tuesday after the tragedy that occurred last night in the Mexico City subway.
At least 24 people died and dozens were injured after the collapse of a stretch of elevated track of line 12 between the Olivos and Tezonco stations, in the southeast of the capital.
Throughout this Tuesday, hundreds of neighbors gathered in the area still incredulous and shocked by what happened.
“This was seen coming, because it was a very horrible creaking that was heard here when the subway circulated “, Adelfo Solano, a 77-year-old retired resident of the area, told BBC Mundo.
His claim is the most common among those who saw the dramatic image of the incident on Tuesday, since the so-called “golden line” presented innumerable failures and deficiencies in its operation since its inauguration less than ten years ago.
Although the director of the metro, Florencia Serranía, assured that the last review of January 2020 showed no anomalies in this section, Thousands of Mexicans accuse the authorities of possible negligence in the construction and demand responsibility from the government, which has already announced an investigation with the collaboration of independent international experts.
“The people of Mexico have to know the whole truth, nothing will be hidden from them,” promised on Tuesday President Andrés Manuel López Obrador along with Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who was head of government of the capital when this line of metro in 2012 and that has become the center of criticism.
A few hours later, the capital prosecutor’s office announced an investigation folder “for the crimes of homicide and damage to property, both guilty,” in which the construction contracts and the construction company will be investigated, and in which engineers and geologists will carry out studies to identify the cause of the loss.
But the majority of relatives of the victims who this Tuesday waited for news in a hospital very close to the scene of the accident, responded that for them the investigation and the apologies for what happened they are sadly late.
The painful wait in the hospital
When he spoke with BBC Mundo, Yuliana Torres had just been informed that her husband Juan Luis Díaz, 38, had passed away.
“They say they took him out of the subway alive, but before entering here he suffered a cardiac arrest and entered dead. We are waiting for the funeral procedures,” he said with profound integrity at the entrance of the Belisario Domínguez hospital, the medical center in which there are more victims admitted next to the Tláhuac hospital.
Near her, the relatives of Jazmín Zulema Sixto, 27, hoped to receive good news in the next few hours, despite the fact that she is in serious condition.
“She is precisely a nurse in this hospital. Yesterday she finished her shift at 10:00 at night and took the subway, But nothing else advanced a season when it all happened and they brought her back, “her aunt, Nadeyra Sixto, told BBC Mundo.
The doctor explained that “if you continue without bleeding, it means that you are on the right track.” Together with her, her boyfriend is admitted, also in intensive care.
But more than 12 hours after the tragedy, others were not even sure where their relatives were. Y they were still looking for them.
This is the case of 24-year-old Kevin Mendoza, who arrived at this hospital after visiting four other medical centers looking for his father Alejandro. His last communication with him was through messages minutes before the subway accident, where he believes he was going.
“Right now I’m going to ask in this one, in the Belisario, and then I’m going to November 20. I hope that he is alive and that they have not registered yet “, he told BBC Mundo.
In his case, the painful label of “Unknown” that is seen next to some of the names on the official lists of victims is, at the same time, his best hope of reuniting with his father.
Just minutes after losing her husband, Yuliana Torres did not hesitate to firmly denounce the poor condition of this metro line.
“We had no choice but to use this line for economy, to save time … but of course it could have been avoided, it had already taken a while for this to happen. “
And despite the investigation announced by the government, he acknowledged not having any confidence in clarifying what happened.
“The architects and those who designed the line will wash their hands. The government will say that it was an accident and no one will take responsibility. Unfortunately this is how it is here: they throw the ball to each other and a culprit will never be found “She criticized accompanied by her only son.
“I was saved for five minutes”
Meanwhile, at the scene of the accident, neighbors and passers-by continued the rescue work with cranes of one of the two wagons that, literally, still hung in the air between the bridge that collapsed and the lower road full of vehicles at the time of the accident.
Between the conversations the testimonies of those who managed to avoid the tragedy were heard.
“I was going to take the subway but a micro (a small bus) just came and I got on to go to Periférico. I was saved for five minutes, it was my salvation. If not, today could be in the pantheon “, Adelfo Solano said.
The same luck had the aunt of Ismael López, a 23-year-old merchant from the area. She had just finished her trip and, when she was going down the stairs of the Tezonco station, she heard “a bang” right on the subway that was running just after the one she had taken.
“She came home very scared, but she arrived”, his nephew told BBC Mundo.
Solano recalls that, at the time of the accident, “terrible cracking sounds were heard, it was very fast but tremendous. And after a while all the ambulances arrived.”
Many of the neighbors insisted in demanding the responsibility of Marcelo Ebrard in what happened.
“This was one of his crap. But it doesn’t matter if he is to blame, because they are going to cover up for sure,” Solano said.
The merchant Ismael López had a similar opinion. “Unfortunately, as Ebrard was going to end his time as head of government (in 2012), he handed over the subway when it was not even finished and then it had to be closed to fix it,” he said.
López refers to when in 2014, barely a year and a half after the line was inaugurated, 11 of 20 stations had to be temporarily closed to correct multiple manufacturing failures.
This Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ebrard said he shared the outrage of the population and welcomed the fact that an investigation is being carried out to clarify what happened, identify those responsible and “act accordingly.” “And for my part, put myself at the full disposal of the corresponding authorities , as I have always done, “he said, expressing his solidarity with all the victims.
“Squeaks and roars”
Many residents agree that “squeaks and roars” were heard when traveling on this line 12. They say that the structure that collapsed this Monday was visible “bent, like it’s sinking, with a curvature “ and that they had already denounced their poor condition.
It was even more affected after the 2017 earthquake, but authorities said they carried out repair work after the earthquake.
López said that this section has such long curves that the metal of the rail hitting the tires made so much noise. “I have relatives who live 20 minutes from here and they say that from there they hear the creaking of the road, which looked crooked,” he said.
He said that although many people published notices on social networks warning that traveling on this section was not safe, the need of the neighbors left them no choice.
“In trucks (buses) there are robberies and robberies … so the need for people here is to go by subway. “
This Tuesday, while trying to recover one of the damaged wagons, life continued in this area of humble and hard-working people, full of small shops and mobile food stalls between the municipalities of Tláhuac and Iztapalapa.
Cristina Pérez, a retired resident of the area, exclaimed in shock that what happened with the subway was “a national shame.”
“They were human, valuable people. Even if they were sellers of chili, is that why they are not worth it? Where the subway went, they are pure humble people. Maybe that’s why they were nobody for the government, but for us they were our Mexican neighbors and brothers “, he told BBC Mundo trying to hold back the crying.
“You cannot say ‘I’m sorry’ and nothing more. The facts are in the home of everyone who lost their lives. We are all outraged and we want someone to tell us what happened here. ”
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.