MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Officials say an elevated section of Mexico City’s metro collapsed and at least 24 people have been killed, including some children, with 79 others hospitalized.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said four bodies were still inside the train, which plunged toward a busy boulevard late Monday night.
It was one of the deadliest episodes in the history of the subway system, which is among the busiest in the world.
International engineering experts will be called in to help determine the cause of the collapse, which the country’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, called “the most terrible accident we’ve ever had in the public transport system.”
Sheinbaum told a news briefing on Tuesday that alongside an investigation by the attorney general “we will hire an international company certified in metros and structural matters to conduct an external technical investigation.”
The accident happened around 10:30 p.m. local time Monday at the Olivos station. The overpass was about 16 feet above the road in southern Mexico City.
One subway car was left dangling with bodies inside, and a crane was brought in to lower it to the ground. Sheinbaum said one of the concrete beams collapsed as the train passed over it.
“A support beam gave way”, said Sheinbaum, who rushed to the area Monday night where the broken train could be seen along with dozens of rescuers searching through the wreckage of the collapsed overpass. Cars could be seen trapped underneath the rubble along with a cloud of dust and debris.
It is unclear if most of the dead were on the subway cars, or whether they were pedestrians or motorists caught below. But Sheinbaum said some children were among the dead.
Hundreds of police and firefighters cordoned off the scene in the southern borough of Tlahuac, as desperate friends and relatives of people believed to be on the train gathered outside the security perimeter.
The accident happened on an elevated and outdoor portion of the city’s rapid transit system on the metro’s newest Line 12, also known as the Golden Line, which stretches far into the city’s southside. The construction had been plagued by complaints and accusations of irregularities.
Line 12, like many of the city’s dozen subway lines, runs underground through more central areas of the city of 9 million, but then runs on elevated, pre-formed concrete structures on the city’s outskirts.
The collapse could represent a major blow to Ebrard, who was Mexico City mayor from 2006 to 2012 when Line 12 was built.
“Of course the causes should be investigated and those responsible should be identified,” he tweeted. “I repeat that I am entirely at the disposition of authorities to contribute in whatever way is necessary.”
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador offered his condolences to the families of those killed at a press briefing on Tuesday. He added the investigation into the cause of the collapse should be done quickly and that nothing should be hidden from the public.
“There’s no impunity for anyone,” he said.
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 of last year, a collision between two trains at the Tacubaya station left one passenger dead, injuring 41 people. In 2015, a train that did not stop on time crashed into another at the Oceania station, injuring 12 people.