At least 53 migrants were killed Thursday in Mexico after the truck they were hiding in hit a retaining wall and overturned in the southern state of Chiapas, a major transit point for those trying to reach the United States.
Another 58 people also were hurt, three of them seriously, according to a preliminary report from the prosecutors in Chiapas, which borders Guatemala.
“So far, 53 people have died and three more are seriously injured,” the office said in a statement that also announced it was taking over the investigation of the incident.
The migrants were crammed into the truck, civil protection officials told reporters.
“According to the statements of the survivors, most of them are from Guatemala,” said Luis Manuel García, the Civil Protection director for Chiapas.
Officials said it appeared that the driver was speeding when he lost control of the vehicle on the highway connecting the city of Chiapa de Corzo with the state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez. He later fled the scene.
Local television images showed large numbers of ambulances, firefighters, and rescue workers gathered around the crashed vehicle, together with some confused and shocked migrants who were awaiting medical attention.
Bodies were wrapped in white sheets or other blankets.
State Governor Rutilio Escandon said the injured should get “prompt attention and assistance,” adding: “Law enforcement will determine who is responsible.”
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei pledged to provide any of his countrymen with consular assistance, including help in getting back home, in a message on Twitter.
His Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador offered his condolences on Twitter, calling the incident “very painful.”
The National Migration Institute, a department of the interior ministry, said in a statement that “humanitarian visitor cards” would be offered to survivors, in addition to humanitarian aid such as food and accommodation.
The INM will coordinate with local and federal authorities efforts “to provide consular assistance, identify bodies, cover funeral costs,” it said.