At least 43 killed as bus, big rig collide in southern Mexico
MEXICO CITY — A big rig pulling two trailers collided with an overloaded passenger bus in southeastern Mexico on Friday, killing at least 43 people in one of the deadliest crashes in memory on the country's highways, authorities said.
The crash occurred on a highway in the coastal state of Veracruz in the early morning hours, officials said. Several others were injured.
Authorities said the private bus belonging to the Butron line was headed to the northern state of Coahuila with 70 people, believed to be farm workers hired to work in the border state.
Gov. Javier Duarte ordered immediate aid for victims and their relatives.
Officials didn't say what caused one of the trailers to hit the bus, nor was there immediate word on what the truck was carrying.
Gina Dominguez, a spokeswoman for the Veracruz government, said the truck’s driver unhooked the rear trailer, which had struck the bus, and fled.
Dominguez said buses similar to the one involved in Friday's crash are built to accommodate 46 to 51 passengers. "Seventy people are a lot," she said.
The crash drew calls for reform after a similar collision last week in which a bus was struck by one of two trailers being pulled by a cargo truck. That crash, on the highway between Mexico City and Toluca in the central state of Mexico, killed five students and a professor from the Autonomous University of Mexico who were passengers in the bus.
Arturo Zamora, a congressman, blamed lax enforcement over so-called double trailers that allow them to exceed what he said are national and international standards restricting loads to 45 tons. He said the truck that collided with the students’ bus was carrying 110 tons of cargo.
"The issue of trucks with double boxes is a problem in Mexico, a country that registers 900 deaths each year due to accidents by these trucks," Zamora said after Friday’s crash. He urged highway officials to crack down on the use of double trailers, which he said also cause damage to highways and bridges.
-- Ken Ellingwood
Photo: Parts of a wrecked bus that crashed in Mexico's Veracruz state on Friday. Credit: EPA/Lidia Lopez / Al Calor Politico