MEXICO CITY — A runaway freight train derailed and hurtled onto a busy highway outside the town of Tehuacan on Tuesday, crushing buses and cars and killing at least 50 people, officials said.
Dozens of others, many of them children, were taken to hospitals with broken bones and other injuries, said Red Cross spokesman Miguel Angel Gonzalez.
Police said the crew of the 12-car train had discovered it had no brakes and jumped clear several miles before the accident, Reuters news agency reported. It said that the train, loaded with cement and sorghum, rushed down a steep incline and may have reached speeds of 125 miles an hour before derailing.
Bruno Cortez Ramirez, an aide to the mayor of Tehuacan, told Reuters that 50 bodies had been pulled from the wreckage and that the toll could run much higher. Other officials at the mayor's office said that more than 100 people were hospitalized with injuries.
"It makes you really angry about the crew who irresponsibly failed to advise the (Tehuacan) station," Cortez said.
Mexican television carried footage from the scene showing the train, twisted almost beyond recognition, with the remains of vehicles smashed underneath. It called the rail disaster one of the worst in Mexican history.
The train derailed just after noon as it rounded a curve along the Tehuacan-Orizaba highway, about 150 miles southeast of Mexico City. It flattened two full-size passenger buses, a crowded microbus and more than a dozen cars near a school.
"It's the time many people leave to pick their children up from school," Gonzalez said.