At Least 53 Migrants Dead After Truck Overturns in Mexico

At least 53 people died and many more were injured when a truck filled with mostly Central American migrants overturned on a highway in southern Mexico on Thursday.

The accident occurred just outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, the largest settlement in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The trailer apparently rolled over while attempting to make its way through a dangerous curve at high speeds, and ended up crashing into the steel base of a pedestrian bridge.

Luis Manuel Moreno, the head of Chiapas' civil defense service, stated that in addition to the 53 people killed, at least 58 more had been injured.

Moreno added that at least 40 of the 58 injuries were serious, and added that the weight of the people inside the truck may have contributed to its tipping over.

The nationalities of the victims were not confirmed, although Moreno stated that some survivors told him that they were Guatemalan.

"My solidarity with the victims of the traffic accident that occurred," tweeted Rutilio Escandón, the governor of Chiapas. "I have instructed to give prompt attention and assistance to the injured. Responsibility will be determined according to the law."

David Santiago, a reporter with Expansión Política, first tweeted a photo of the scene that showed body bags and remains strewn across the road as rescue efforts continued.

While over 100 people packing into a single trailer might seem like a farfetched number, it is not unusual for large trucks traveling throughout Mexico to be carrying so many people, according to the Associated Press.

Southern Mexico is reportedly known for its significant migrant-smuggling operations. Many of these migrants come from the northern Central American nations of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala, the last of which borders the state of Chiapas.

While Mexico has made recent efforts to try and stop large groups of migrants from traversing across the country, however, the Associated Press noted that "the clandestine and illicit flow of migrant smuggling has continued."

Mexico Truck Crash
At least 53 people died after a truck full of migrants flipped over and crashed in southern Mexico. Here, bodybags can be seen being lined up in the aftermath of the crash. Sergio Hernandez/Getty

The accident also occurred just one day after the United States reinstated a migrant program called Remain in Mexico. The program forces asylum seekers to stay in Mexico instead of the U.S. while their cases are being heard, and opponents state that this subjects migrants to dangerous conditions.

The affair is often a long and arduous one, with the New York Times noting that migrants must "travel through cartel-infested territory in northern Mexico, often paying steep prices to smugglers to get them to the border."

One of the largest 'busts' of smuggling migrants happened just two months ago in October, when officials in Tamaulipas, a northern Mexican state, reportedly found over 600 travelers from Central America moving as one unit. The migrants had squeezed themselves between six large trucks in an attempt to reach the southern U.S. border.

Additionally, this past March, a reported 13 migrants also died in a car accident in California along the Mexican border.

In total, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that at least 750 migrants have lost their lives attempting to cross Mexico, and thousands more have vanished along the way.

Newsweek has reached out to the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez for comment.