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Rescuers Find More Victims of Mexico Train Crash; 112 Dead

August 11, 1989|From Associated Press

GUASAVE, Mexico — Rescue teams searching along the San Rafael River on Thursday found bodies as far as 14 miles downstream from the site of a rail disaster that killed at least 112 people, the government news agency said.

The number of injured reached 205, the Notimex agency quoted state security coordinator Jose Carlos Saracho as saying, but hospital officials said most victims were treated for minor injuries and released.

The federal Transportation Department said the 11-car train, carrying about 360 people, plunged off a bridge Wednesday morning in the wake of torrential rains, and several cars fell about 25 feet into the river in northwestern Mexico. The train was bound from the Pacific coastal resort of Mazatlan to Mexicali, on the California border.

A department statement said the area had experienced its worst rainstorm in the last 50 years just before the crash. It said 2 inches of rain in six hours caused a dam to overflow, and the resulting torrent washed out supports for the bridge, which collapsed under the train's weight.

The train, popularly known as "The Burro" because it stops at almost every station along the 900-mile route, is patronized almost entirely by poor Mexicans.

Javier Lopez, the Red Cross duty officer in Los Mochis, 60 miles northeast of the crash site, said most of those on the train had apparently been sleeping and that most of the victims drowned.

No Americans have been reported among the dead, said Dan Sainz, U.S. vice consul in Mazatlan, but he said that bodies were still being found. Most bodies were still unidentified. All those identified so far were Mexicans.

Sinaloa state Gov. Francisco Labastida Ochoa said Thursday that the national railroad was providing food, clothing, shelter and about $200 each for survivors.

At least three foreigners survived the wreck. A spokeswoman at a travel agency in Guasave said that two men and a woman from Manchester, England, came to the agency for help, washed the mud off their clothes, ate and headed for San Diego by bus.

Many reports referred to people missing, but it appeared that many survivors simply walked away and left the area.

Accidents are frequent on the rundown Mexican railway, but this was by far the worst this decade. A railroad spokesman said it was not the worst in Mexican history, but he could not list a more serious one.

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