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Mexico City Metro Overpass Collapse Kills 23

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

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On Monday evening (May 3), a subway overpass in Mexico City collapsed into a busy boulevard, causing cars of the passenger train to fall into the street below.

According to reports, the incident has resulted in 23 fatalities and the hospitalization of over 70 additional individuals.

“It is sad news,” said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico. “We send our condolences to the families of the victims of this accident.”

What Happened

In what has become one of the city’s deadliest incidents in the history of its subway system, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum reported that at 10:22 p.m. on May 3, one of the concrete beams stretching along Line 12 collapsed as a subway train passed over it.

The overpass measures roughly 5 meters (16 feet) above the road below, however, the passenger trains were reported to have run above a concrete median strip, potentially saving additional casualties and motorists below.

In response to the tragedy, hundreds of police officers, firefighters and rescuers were on scene to help those involved in the crash, as well as cordon large groups of friends and relatives of people believed to be on the train.

Throughout the night, a crane was issued to the scene to help stabilize the train cars amid concerns that they could collapse onto the road. This forced officials to temporarily halt rescue efforts.

By Tuesday morning, the search for survivors turned into a recovery operation, with four of the victims’ bodies still trapped in the wreckage, according to government officials.

While the structure is reported to be one of the city’s newest metro tracks, having been inaugurated in 2012, reports from the past indicate that the structural integrity of the overpass was damaged after an 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked the area in September 2017.

Multiple residents expressed concerns over the cracking in the concrete, however, El Universal newspaper reported that transport authorities carried out repairs following those concerns. Additional allegations regarding the structure’s poor design and construction were also voiced when Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard’s term as Mayor ended in 2012. Servicing the city from 2006 to 2012, Ebrard oversaw the construction of the subway’s Line 12.

Like many other tracks within the city, the Line 12 runs underground through more central areas of the city of 9 million, but then runs on elevated concrete structures on the city’s outskirts. The subway system is reported to be the second-largest in the Americas—next to New York City—handling more than 4 million passengers a day.

Previously, the Mexico City Metro experienced two other serious accidents since its inauguration almost a decade ago. The first occurred in 2015 when a train that did not stop on time crashed into another at the Oceania station, injuring 12. And last year, in March, a collision between two trains at the Tacubaya station left one passenger dead and injured 41 people.

Launching Investigations

Although Sheinbaum reports that maintenance was carried out on the train line every day, the system as a whole has been plagued by issues in more recent years. In 2013, the track was partly closed for repairs.

“At this moment, we can’t speculate about what happened,” Sheinbaum told reporters early Tuesday. “There has to be a deep investigation, and whoever is responsible has to be held responsible.”

While the investigation is launched by an external company, Sheinbaum adds that the line will remain closed so that a structural survey can also be carried out.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fatalities; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Mass transit; Program/Project Management; Public Transit; Rail; Railcars; SA; South America; Transportation

Comment from Thomas Van Hooser, (5/5/2021, 9:44 AM)

Incident appears to be similiar as the pedestrian bridge collapse in South Florida not long ago. Will be interesting to see root causes during the investigation.

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