At least 53 illegal immigrants, mostly from Guatemala, were killed Thursday in a truck crash in southern Mexico, a country caught between the pressure of immigration from its southern neighbors and US determination.
“So far 53 people have died and three have been seriously injured,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement.
The crash, near the capital, Guatemala’s border state of Chiapas (southern), killed 49 people, leaving 40 dead, including three, and 18 slightly injured.
According to the first explanation to the Civil Defense magazine, the immigrants were loaded into a truck. Local media reported that the fast moving truck collided with the wall.
“According to the testimonies of the survivors, most of them are from Guatemala,” said Luis Manuel Garcia, regional director of civil defense.
Guatemala’s President Alejandro Chiamate promised in a message of condolence and solidarity on Twitter that “all necessary diplomatic assistance, including withdrawal”.
“I am deeply saddened by the tragedy of a truck overturning in Chiapas, which was carrying migrants from Central America. It’s very painful, ”tweeted his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
In addition to humanitarian assistance (food, shelter), survivors will be issued “humanitarian visitor cards,” the National Migration Agency (INM) said in a statement.
INM will coordinate with local and federal authorities’ efforts to “provide diplomatic assistance, identify bodies, and cover funeral expenses.”
Immediately after the crash, paramedics pulled the bodies out of the truck and covered them with a white sheet or a simple blanket on the floor, images obtained by AFPTV.
The Red Cross, firefighters and ambulances were called to the scene. The injured were taken to private and government hospitals in the area.
The crash happened in the state of Chiapas, the gateway for immigrants hoping to reach the United States from Central America (mainly Honduras and El Salvador).
Carrying them in trucks is one of the usual methods of smugglers.
Other immigrants want to cross the country on foot in a “caravan” and seize the opportunity to claim their rights.
“We need immigration alternatives and legal avenues to avoid such tragedies,” the Mexican branch of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a statement.
A traditional route Mexico faces the record arrival of immigrants this year not only from Honduras and El Salvador but also from Haiti.
From January to October, 108,195 asylum applications were registered in the country, according to the latest official figures.
For its part, the United States is committed to immigration. During a visit to Mexico in early October, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned that their trip was “deeply dangerous and unsuccessful.”
The crash happened on the same day that two first-time immigrants returned to Mexico from the United States under a plan set up during the time of former President Donald Trump, who was suspended by Joe Biden, but was reactivated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Under the program, known as “Quedate en Mexico”, immigrants have to wait in Mexico to respond to asylum in the United States.
Another United Nations agency, the International Office for Migration (IOM), considers it urgent to end this plan “as inhumanely and in violation of international law as” as possible and systematically.