Saturday, June 10

Battered survivors tell of Mexico truck accident that killed dozens

Simply counting the human cost of the horrific truck accident that killed 55 migrants and injured more than 100 is chilling, even for those who survived the disaster on a highway in southern Mexico.

About 40 of the survivors were recorded with “multiple concussions” at local hospitals Friday night, and they were the least injured.

Nearly 20 other people had broken bones, often arms and wrists, suggesting that they tried to break the force of the impact when the semi-trailer full of trafficked migrants overturned and crashed into a footbridge.

The worst were those with severe internal damage or brain injuries, often with crushed chest, abdomen, or pelvis. The force of the collision struck the migrants against each other, slamming them against the steel sides of the trailer and knocking some onto the road.

Enmanuel Ramón Hernández was one of the residents of the place who rushed to help after the accident. He said the crushing weight of the migrants themselves could have caused many deaths.

“Most (of the injuries) were from contusions or internal injuries, blows,” Hernández said. But of the first 45 deaths that were reported, he added, “they had no evidence of bone fractures or visible fractures. They were asphyxiated among themselves ”.

Survivors told from their hospital beds how their location inside the trailer determined who lived and who died.

Those who were unlucky enough to be stuck against the fragile walls of the cargo container were almost certainly killed, survivors said. Those in the middle of the packed group survived, protected by their fellow migrants when the container overturned on the road.

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“Those who died were those who were against the walls of the trailer,” said a young migrant from Guatemala who was being treated for a broken arm. “Thank God, we were in the middle. But those on the sides died. “

The migrant, who did not want to give his name because he did not have the corresponding documents in Mexico, described a gruesome scene of screaming and blood in the moments after the truck crashed into the base of the steel pedestrian bridge on Thursday. He estimated that there were about 250 migrants on board.

The living had to emerge from the tangle of dead and dying bodies.

“They fell on me, there were like two or three fellow migrants on top of me,” said the young man.

Then came the grim task of trying to get the wounded out.

“When I got out, another fellow migrant was screaming,” said the survivor. “He was yelling at me, I pulled him out, pulled him out and put him on the side of the road, but he died.”

The young man said that the driver of the truck, whose whereabouts is unknown, had entered a sharp curve at high speed and lost control on a highway that leads to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas.

While the Mexican government is trying to appease the United States by stopping the caravans of walking migrants and allowing the reestablishment of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, it has not been able to contain the flood of migrants crammed by the hundreds into trucks operated by smugglers. They charge thousands of dollars to get them to the US border.

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Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo called on Friday for more penalties for trafficking in immigrants.

“We have to toughen the punishment for those who benefit from our people,” Brolo said.

Survivors said most of the people crammed into the trailer were from Guatemala and Honduras. Authorities said migrants from Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Mexico were also on board.

Those who spoke to survivors said they talked about boarding the truck in Mexico, near the Guatemalan border, and paying between $ 2,500 and $ 3,500 to be taken to the state of Puebla, in central Mexico. Once there, they presumably hired another group of smugglers to take them to the US border.

Despite the warning, more migrants continued on their way to the United States. On Thursday after the accident, a group of nearly 400 migrants, mostly Central Americans, walked down a highway leading to Mexico City, ignoring pleas from immigration agents and National Guard troops to surrender. .

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed poverty and lack of jobs that force people to migrate.

“We have been insisting that the causes that originate these unfortunate events must be addressed,” said López Obrador, who called on the United States to invest in development programs for Central America. He said the United States government is moving slowly on the issue.

Pope Francis, who visited Chiapas in 2015 and has made the plight of migrants a hallmark of his papacy, sent a telegram of condolences on Friday to the Archbishop of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, offering prayers for the dead and their families, and for the wounded.

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