The tragedy caused by the collapse of the Mexico City Metro

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The collapse of a section of Line 12 is one of the greatest tragedies that has been remembered in the capital since the earthquake of September 19, 2017 and that has shocked Mexico, where three days of official mourning were decreed.

The collapse of a section of Line 12 of the Mexico City metro, which occurred on Monday night and has so far left at least 24 dead and 79 injured, has marked a long day in this country that passed in the middle of sadness, restlessness and the demand for justice.

These are the keys to the greatest tragedy that has been remembered in the capital since the earthquake of September 19, 2017 and that has shocked Mexico, where three days of official mourning were decreed.

Rescuers search for survivors at the site where the Mexico City Metro structure collapsed.  (Photo: Luis Cortes / Reuters).
Rescuers search for survivors at the site where the Mexico City Metro structure collapsed. (Photo: Luis Cortes / Reuters).

1.- The accident

The tragic accident occurred on Monday at 22.22 hours (03.22 GMT on Tuesday) when a beam of an elevated bridge of Line 12, between Olivos and Tezonco stations, in the east of the capital, gave way, causing the fall of a train with passengers who got stranded in a “V” shape.

The collapsed structure fell on top of cars driving down the street.

Emergency workers carry an injured person on a stretcher after a one-meter overpass partially collapsed in Mexico City.  (Photo by Pedro PARDO / AFP).
Emergency workers carry an injured person on a stretcher after a one-meter overpass partially collapsed in Mexico City. (Photo by Pedro PARDO / AFP).

2.- The balance

The Civil Protection authorities of the capital reported that at least 24 people lost their lives in the accident and indicated that of the 79 people injured, 15 remained hospitalized, some seriously.

According to the latest report from the capital’s Prosecutor’s Office, so far only 10 of the 24 deceased had been identified.

Firefighters remove one of the subway cars on line 12 that crashed in Mexico City.  (Photo: EFE / Carlos Ramírez).
Firefighters remove one of the subway cars on line 12 that crashed in Mexico City. (Photo: EFE / Carlos Ramírez).

3.- The construction

The Line 12 subway, which opened in October 2012 by then – mayor and current Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, has been controversial from the beginning, especially by the substantial increase in the final cost of the work, which was about 27,000 million pesos (about 1,700 million dollars at the time).

In 2013, failures in the work began to come to light and finally in March 2014 the service of 11 of the 20 stations was suspended after detecting problems such as unevenness, high vibration or wear of the tracks.

The service did not fully recover until the end of 2015, but after the 2017 earthquake it was affected and neighbors reported cracks in parts of the elevated road.

Aerial view made with a drone that shows the collapse of the subway cars in Mexico City.  (EFE / Sáshenka Gutiérrez).
Aerial view made with a drone that shows the collapse of the subway cars in Mexico City. (EFE / Sáshenka Gutiérrez).

4.- The expertise

Faced with the general outrage at the collapse of a line that has been in the spotlight for years in the controversy over corruption and poor maintenance, the mayor of the capital, Claudia Sheinbaum, promised that “to the last consequences” will be reached.

In addition, he announced a “very detailed review” of the elevated section of line 12, which has been suspended, as well as an external expert report hired from the Norwegian company Det Norske Veritas “to get to the bottom of what happened”, in addition to the one that complies the capital prosecutor’s office.

However, Sheinbaum ruled out the dismissal of the director of the metro, Florencia Serranía, or other public officials until the results of the investigations are available.

Firefighters and workers work to remove one of the wagons that collapsed in Mexico City.  (EFE / Carlos Ramírez).
Firefighters and workers work to remove one of the wagons that collapsed in Mexico City. (EFE / Carlos Ramírez).

5.- The president

The president of MexicoAndrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), assured that “a thorough investigation, without regard, of any kind, will be carried out, seeking to know the truth and what really happened.”

He indicated that “absolutely nothing will be hidden”, because the “people of Mexico have to know the whole truth.”

AMLO decreed 3 days of national mourning for the accident and his Government expressed “its solidarity and deep pain towards the deceased and injured persons, as well as their respective families.”