At least 55 people were killed and more than 100 injured when a truck overturned in southern Mexico on Thursday, with most of the victims believed to be migrants from Central America, according to local authorities.
The incident happened in Mexico’s Chiapas state, which borders Guatemala, when the truck carrying dozens of migrants crashed. Photos from the scene show the truck on its side next to a footbridge and bodies laid out on the road wrapped in body bags.
In video footage taken shortly after the accident, people could be seen spilled out on to the road, next to a white trailer that had split open. The vehicle crashed on a tight bend outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, the Chiapas state capital.
Later images showed victims of the crash on a red tarp as people tended to them.
One man, who was in the truck at the time of the accident but escaped uninjured, told CNN that he had traveled from Guatemala. All he remembered was the vehicle overturning and “a lot of dust,” he said.
Children, women and men were among the dead, the director of the Chiapas Firefighter Institute, Marco Antonio Sánchez, told CNN. “It was speeding, that’s what one of the people we were carrying said to me, and well, unfortunately, this is the result.”
On Friday, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador sent his condolences to the victims’ families.
“We express our sorrow for these unfortunate events and send a fraternal hug to the families of those who lost their lives in this accident. It hurts a lot when these cases occur,” he said from Chihuahua state.
López Obrador added that a 16-year-old girl is among the deceased.
State Governor Rutilio Escandón previously tweeted that in addition to the deaths, 105 people were injured in the crash – among them 83 men and 22 women.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said some of the people who died included foreign nationals.
“My condolences to the victims and affected families. In communication with the State Government and Civil Protection. We make contact with the foreign ministries of the affected countries,” Ebrard wrote on Twitter.
Nearly 98% of those killed or injured in the deadly crash were from Guatemala, with the rest being from Honduras, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Mexico, Mexican federal authorities said Friday.
The trailer was speeding and hit a pedestrian bridge before overturning, according to the attorney general’s office.
The injured include 19 minors, Mexico’s Secretariat of Citizen Security and Protection said in a statement Friday, adding that all injured migrants will receive a visa to transit and stay in Mexico.
The driver of the truck fled the scene following the accident, the secretariat said.
Migration is very common from Central American countries like Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, where violence, corruption, food insecurity, and a lack of economic opportunity have left many with no other choice.
The dangerous journey, often organized by people smugglers, travels north through Mexico to reach the US border.
In November, Mexican authorities reported finding some 600 migrants hidden in two trailers traveling through the state of Veracruz. The country’s National Migration Institute said they discovered 145 women and 455 men in closed box cars that were heading north towards the US border.
US Border Patrol arrested a record number of people for unlawful crossings on the US-Mexico border over the past year. There have also been a record number of people dying while attempting to cross the border this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.
On Monday, the Biden administration relaunched the controversial Trump-era border policy known as “Remain in Mexico,” kicking back into gear the program that allows officials to send non-Mexican migrants to Mexico to await their US immigration court hearings.
Under the Trump administration, thousands of migrants were subject to the program, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, and resided in makeshift camps along Mexico’s northern border often in squalor and dangerous conditions.
President Joe Biden pledged to end the program and began the process of admitting those migrants who had previously been subject to it. But a federal judge in Texas disrupted those plans when he ordered the administration to revive the policy.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Natalie Gallon contributed reporting.