Disasters & Accidents

Families identifying the dead in Mexico metro incident demand justice

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, May 4 (EFE).- Gisela Rioja’s husband went to work Monday and never returned. After an endless night searching where Mexico City’s subway collapsed and asking several hospitals in the area, she found him where she feared most: the morgue.

“I do want justice, because my husband did not deserve this,” she told EFE hours after identifying the body.

Like her, dozens of people spent the day at the doors of the forensic offices of the Mexico City Prosecutor’s Office in Iztapalapa, east of the capital, waiting to receive the worst news: that their missing relatives were among the 24 killed in the accident.

Slowly, they entered the unit to identify the bodies and later waited in a large tent for endless procedures before they could retrieve them. Some with waits of more than ten hours.

According to the latest report from the Prosecutor’s Office, only 10 of the 24 dead had been identified.

Gisela, who said she was met with a “terrible attitude” from officials at all the places she went, is convinced the local government knew the line her husband took daily was not in good condition.

“As they did not give me reports in any hospital, I came here, and it’s not fair. The government already knew. (…) I think this is a crime and I ask for justice,” she said.

The accident occurred at 22.22 hours on Monday (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 collapse. The bridge caved in and two wagons fell onto the floor and became stuck in a “V” shape.

The collapse of the bridge, which fell on cars circulating on the street, is the greatest tragedy in the capital since the earthquake of Sep. 19, 2017 and has shocked Mexico, where three days of official mourning were decreed.

Most of the 24 dead and 79 injured were people returning home after work, such as José Luis’ sister-in-law, who died at 37.

“Since last night we learned that it was the line she used to get home. She did not answer the phone and we began the search at night through the hospitals,” José Luis told EFE while his brother was filling the paperwork to recover the body.

Following the search through the hospitals, the family had only slept two hours and now had to face “cumbersome procedures.”

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said Norwegian company Det Norske Veritas would investigate what happened and pledged funeral aid for the families.

But José Luis said “all the money in the world” would not fix their broken lives.

Metro Line 12, inaugurated in 2012 by then mayor and current Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, has been involved in controversy from the beginning.

The line, which promised to connect the poor neighborhoods in the south of the capital, cost much more than what had been promised and part of its operations were suspended due to numerous failures between 2014 and 2015.

In addition, residents of the area had been reporting serious damage to the elevated bridge of the so-called golden line since the strong earthquake of 2017.

“The truth was a catastrophe, it is a pity that we have this type of rulers,” said one of the relatives waiting at the prosecutor’s office, remembering her nephew, who died at 29. “They cut his whole life short.” EFE


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