VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico — A notorious cargo train known as “the Beast” and carrying at least 250 Central American hitchhiking migrants derailed in a remote region of southern Mexico on Sunday, killing at least five people and injuring 18, authorities said.
The train company and rescue workers were bringing in two cranes to help search for more victims among the eight derailed cars, officials said.
Thousands of migrants ride the roofs of the train cars on their way north each year, braving brutal conditions for a chance at crossing into the United States.
The Tabasco state government said at least 250 Honduran migrants were on the train heading north from the Guatemala border. Heavy rains had loosened the earth beneath the tracks and shifted the rails, officials said.
Honduran President Porfirio Lobo set up a call center for families to learn information about their loved ones.
The head of civil protection for Mexico’s Interior Department, Luis Felipe Puente, released a list of 17 Hondurans ranging in ages from 19 to 54 who were taken to two regional hospitals. Six of them were in serious condition, according to the list he published on his official Twitter account. Puente said another Guatemalan was also wounded and the Central American nation’s foreign ministry said two were injured.
The locomotive and first car did not derail and were used to move victims to the nearest hospital, in the neighboring state of Veracruz. Tabasco state Civil Protection chief Cesar Burelo Burelo said the accident happened at 3 a.m. in a marshy area surrounded by lakes and forest that is out of cellphone range.
The Red Cross said dozens of soldiers, marines and civilian emergency workers rushed to the area, which ambulances couldn’t reach. Officials were trying to establish air or water links to the scene.
Honduran and Guatemalan diplomats traveled to the area to help identify victims and make sure the injured were getting needed medical attention, the nations’ foreign officials said.