CHONTALPA, Mexico (AP) — 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 begin lifting the eight derailed cars overnight, and officials said it was possible they might find more victims under the wreckage.
Late Sunday, federal authorities had lowered the death toll to three, but said minutes later that two more had died, and put the toll back at the five announced earlier by Tabasco state officials. It said 18 others were injured, two of them near death.
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. Mexico's transportation ministry said the train traveled at 6 miles per hour, which meets standards. In a news statement, the government said the tracks were rebuilt in 2009 and recently received an inspection.
Dozens of migrants who survived uninjured were sent to a local shelter in the town of Chontalpa.
Jose Hector Alfonso Pacheco, of Honduras, said he was riding between two train cars loaded with scrap metal. He said fellow migrants who squeezed in between the ladder and the car were the ones who were killed or injured.
"Many of my Honduran brothers fastened themselves to the train. They couldn't let go. They are the ones who lost their lives," Alfonso 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.