Disasters & Accidents

Quest for justice continues a year after Mexico City metro overpass collapse

By Ines Amarelo

Mexico City, May 3 (EFE).- Survivors and family members of those who perished in a deadly Mexico City metro overpass collapse one year ago are continuing their search for justice and compensation.

The accident occurred on May 3, 2021, in the capital’s eastern borough of Tlahuac, just a couple of hundred meters (yards) from the Olivos metro station, and caused the train’s final two cars to fall to the street and come to rest in a diagonal “V” shape.

Twenty-six people died and nearly 100 others were injured.

Benito Alvarado, one of victims now pursuing financial damages, told Efe that he was returning home from work with his brother when one of Line 12’s overpasses collapsed and caused his train car to fall onto Tlahuac Ave.

Alvarado, who was unable to move anything except his head for several days and still cannot walk (doctors told him it would take two years), said his physical recovery is a bigger priority than money.

The man says he and his brother still need several surgeries, although he acknowledges that authorities have covered their medical expenses thus far.

“I was at the entrance (to the car), in the part that was left pointing up (toward the overpass),” Alvarado said. “Virtually all of us fell downward … until I realized my legs were really destroyed.”

No one has been jailed to date over the accident, although Mexico City’s District Attorney’s Office said the investigation is still ongoing and that it will seek to indict 10 people on involuntary homicide and other charges.

“It wasn’t a natural disaster. It was (human) error,” Alvarado said.

He and a score of other survivors and victims’ family members have tried to seek justice in Mexican courts.

And 14 plaintiffs represented by attorney Cristopher Estupiñan took their case to the New York Supreme Court, where they filed a civil lawsuit against the companies that constructed Line 12 of the Mexico City Metro: Mexico’s Ingenieros Civiles y Asociados (ICA), France’s Alstom and Spanish railway manufacturer CAF.

Some families also have been entering into settlement agreements, Estupiñan’s law firm announced last week, although no specifics have been released.

That tragic day is fresh in the minds of the residents of the area surrounding the accident’s ground zero – between the Tezonco and Olivos metro stations.

“I thank God that no one in our family was there. But I prayed for those who were there, who died or who (suffered an injury),” Ofelia Aguilar, a police officer and local resident whose son had been riding on that same line shortly before the accident but got off a few stations earlier, told Efe.

Jose Nieto, a retiree who lives in the Los Olivos neighborhood, remembers the “magnitude of the accident” and urged authorities to complete the repair work that many say is progressing too slowly.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, however, said Tuesday in a press conference that reconstruction work began on Feb. 14 and is on course to be completed by year’s end.

The columns and structure of the entire six-kilometer (3.7-mile) elevated portion of Line 12 will be reinforced with elements such as struts and tensors, according to a report by the mayor’s office.

Sheinbaum said Tuesday that service will be re-established as soon as possible on that line, which local residents say is crucial for that area’s integration with the rest of the capital.

“Well, yes, we do really miss the metro,” Aguilar said of a line that was inaugurated on Oct. 30, 2012, and cut commuting times in half. “No one knew about us before.”

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