Disasters & Accidents

Mexicans suspect negligence in deadly metro accident

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, May 5 (EFE).- Even as work continued here Wednesday to clear the rubble after the collapse of a metro overpass resulted in the deaths of 25 people, Mexicans voiced suspicions that negligence played a part.

“It wasn’t a tragedy of natural causes, it was negligence from the start,” Maria Gomez, who lives near the disaster scene in the Mexico City borough of Tlahuac, told Efe.

The overpass collapsed at around 10.20 pm Monday, when a metro train was riding on a section of Line 12 between the Olivos and Tezonco stations.

Two train carriages ended up resting on the roofs of a bus and several cars in the shape of the letter “V.”

The death toll, which stands at 25, could grow, as 38 people remain hospitalized with injuries suffered when the overpass gave way.

Gomez, who would have been on the ill-fated train but for a supply problem that caused her to stay home from work on Monday, said that numerous people in positions of authority share the blame for the accident.

“It’s not one person, the people responsible for this negligence are many, because from the beginning, this line had problems and more problems,” she said.

Maria is not alone. Nearly 83 percent of Mexicans say official negligence was behind the tragedy, according to survey results released Wednesday by polling and market research firm Gabinete de Comunicacion Estrategica.

Line 12, known as the Golden Line, is the newest section of the Mexico City Metro. It was completed on Oct. 30, 2012, during the administration of former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who is now the country’s foreign affairs secretary.

The project was plagued by cost overruns and problems forced a segment of Line 12 to be shut down for months in 2014-2015.

Tlahuac resident Carlos Mainez, a civil engineer, said Wednesday at the accident scene that the overpass collapsed because of “structural failure of the beams.”

“There is a lot of distance from column to column. That distance is saying to me that the beam failed,” he told Efe.

Some observers suggest the accident poses a threat to the political prospects of Ebrard and incumbent capital Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, seen until now as leading contenders to succeed President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Sheinbaum has sought to downplay such speculation.

“It would be very petty to be thinking about a political matter at this moment,” she told a press conference Wednesday, while Lopez Obrador, who ordered three days of official mourning, asked people to refrain from politicizing the tragedy.

Investigators from the Mexican Attorney General’s Office were at the accident scene on Wednesday along with experts from DNV, a Norway-based risk management firm hired by the municipal government to provide an independent assessment of the causes of the disaster.

“I took it (the metro) daily to go to the central city,” 18-year-old Gabriel told Efe.

He is just one of the roughly 220,000 people who will have to find another way to get to work now that Line 12 is out of commission.

Though the capital transit department has boosted bus service in Tlahuac to compensate, Gabriel made his Wednesday commute by bicycle. EFE

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