At least 53 people are dead after a lorry loaded with as many as 200 migrants tipped over and crashed into the base of a steel pedestrian bridge in southern Mexico.
By late Thursday, the death toll stood at 53, and authorities said at least 54 people had been injured.
It was one of the worst single-day death tolls for migrants in Mexico since the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants by the Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas.
Volunteer rescuers hauled bodies off the pile by their arms and legs, while some migrants scrambled and limped to extract themselves from the twisted steel sheets of the collapsed container.
The most severely injured, many streaming blood, were carried by their arms and legs to plastic sheets set on the road.
The walking wounded were led, stunned and uncomprehending, to the same sheets. Ambulances, cars and pickup trucks were dragooned into service, ferrying the injured to hospitals.
Later, the dead were laid in rows of white sheets, side by side, on the highway.
Rescue workers who first arrived said that even more migrants had been aboard the lorry when it crashed and had fled for fear of being detained by immigration agents.
About 200 migrants may have been packed into the lorry, said Guatemala’s top human rights official, Jordan Rodas.
While shocking, that number is not unusual for migrant smuggling operations in Mexico, and the sheer weight of the load – combined with speed and a nearby curve – may have been enough to throw the truck off balance, authorities said.
Luis Manuel Moreno, head of the Chiapas state civil defence office, said about 21 of the injured had serious wounds and were taken to local hospitals.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei wrote on Twitter: “I deeply regret the tragedy in Chiapas state, and I express my solidarity for the victims’ families, to whom we will offer all the necessary consular assistance, including repatriation.”
The lorry had originally been a closed freight module of the kind used to transport perishable goods. The container was smashed open by the force of the impact. It was unclear if the driver survived.