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Metro Overpass Collapses in Mexico City, Leaving Many Dead, Injured

Tue May 04, 2021 - National Edition
CBS News & The Associated Press

An overpass for Mexico City’s metro partially collapsed with train cars on it on. (SUUMA Voluntarios/Twitter photo)
An overpass for Mexico City’s metro partially collapsed with train cars on it on. (SUUMA Voluntarios/Twitter photo)

Rescuers were on the scene throughout the night May 3 and early May 4 to pull victims from the rubble following the collapse of an elevated section at a Mexico City metro train station. As a result of the collapse, a subway car careened onto a busy boulevard late as it approached the Olivos station, killing at least 23 people and injuring about 70, according to city officials.

CBS News and the Associated Press both reported early May 4 that Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said 49 of the injured were hospitalized, and that seven were in serious condition and undergoing surgery.

To allow first responders to safely check the subway car for more survivors, a crane could be seen holding it in place as the car was left dangling on the collapsed section. Their efforts were briefly interrupted at midnight because the partially dangling train was "very weak," according to the mayor.

Sheinbaum said a motorist had been pulled alive from a car that was trapped on the roadway below. Dozens of rescuers continued searching through wreckage from the collapsed, preformed concrete structure.

"There are unfortunately children among the dead," she told CBS and AP reporters on the scene, without specifying how many had perished.

The overpass was about 16 ft. above the road in Mexico City's southside borough of Tlahuac, but the train ran above a concrete median strip, which may have lessened the casualties among motorists on the roadway below.

"A support beam gave way," Sheinbaum explained to reporters on the scene, adding that the beam collapsed just as the train passed over it.

"We don't know if they are alive," she said of the people possibly trapped inside the subway car.

Hundreds of police and firefighters cordoned off the scene as desperate friends and relatives of people believed to be on the trains gathered outside the security perimeter.

The disaster occurred on Line 12, the newest of Mexico City's subway lines, which stretches far into the city's southside. Like many of the metropolis' dozen subway lines, it operates underground through the more central areas of the city of nine million people, but runs on elevated, pre-formed concrete structures on Mexico City's outskirts.

The collapse could represent a major blow to Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, who was Mexico City's mayor from 2006 to 2012, when Line 12 was built. CBS News reported questions about the quality of the construction emerged soon after he left office as mayor.

Shortly after the collapse, Ebrard wrote on his Twitter account, "What happened today on the Metro is a terrible tragedy."

"Of course, the causes should be investigated and those responsible should be identified," he wrote. "I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary."

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 2020, a collision between two trains at the Tacubaya station left one passenger dead and injured 41 people. In 2015, a train that failed to stop on time smashed into another at the Oceania station, injuring 12 people.

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