Mexico promises answers after metro train collapse kills 23

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico will find out who was responsible for the overpass collapse that killed at least 23 people and injured dozens more when a train on Mexico City's newest metro line plunged onto a busy road below, the government said on Tuesday.

Two train carriages hung from the damaged overpass after the accident late on Monday, and rescue efforts were briefly suspended with authorities worried that more train parts and debris could slam down onto the road.

Firefighters using heavy chains to stabilize the site pulled bodies and survivors from the wreckage. Some 79 people were injured, including three children, and survivors were taken to nearby hospitals in the south of the capital, city authorities said.

A video on Milenio TV channel showed the overpass plummeting onto a stream of cars near the Olivos station in the southeast of the city at around 10:30 p.m. (0330 GMT on Tuesday), sending up clouds of dust and sparks.

Speaking at a regular news conference, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the investigation should be done quickly and that nothing should be hidden from the public.

"There's no impunity for anyone," he said.

Investigations will be carried out by both the attorney general's office and an external auditor, the government said.

The crash has raised questions about safety on one of the world's busiest metro systems, which spreads across a vast urban sprawl that is home to over 20 million people.

ACCIDENTS

It was the second serious accident this year, after a fire at a central control building knocked out service on several lines for weeks. The overpass that collapsed was part of Linea 12, an addition to the network finished less than a decade ago and long plagued by allegations of corruption.

Mexico City has been governed by Lopez Obrador or his allies for more than 20 years, including current mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, who was mayor when Linea 12 was built.

In 2014, just two years after it opened, several of the line's stations were closed for repairs of structural problems.

Linea 12 was built by a consortium of CARSO Infraestructura y Construccion, S.A.B. de C.V (CCICSA), a company controlled by the family of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, Mexico's Grupo ICA, and the Mexican unit of France's Alstom SA .

CCICSA said in a statement to Reuters it stood in solidarity with victims' families and those who were injured. "We are going to wait for the official expert opinion," the company said.

Reuters could not immediately reach Alstom or ICA for comment.

Sheinbaum, who earlier said it appeared a girder had given way on the overpass, said the attorney general's office and an external company would be involved in the investigation.

Ebrard said it was the "most terrible" accident to have hit the local transport system, and said he was ready to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.

At the news conference with Lopez Obrador, Sheinbaum and Ebrard faced repeated questions from reporters about who should be held accountable for what happened. Both urged the public to allow investigators to do their work before seeking to apportion responsibility for the accident.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

05/04/2021 15:01

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