Mexico’s president said US should invest in social programmes in Central America after at least 55 people were killed when a truck overturned on a highway in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The death toll is likely to rise, with many of the injured taken to hospital in a serious condition, an official said. (AFP)

Mexico has urged Washington to rethink its migration policy after a horror road accident killed 55 undocumented migrants and injured more than 100 in a truck on a major transit route to the United States.

Bodies draped in white sheets lined the roadside near Tuxtla Gutierrez in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas on Friday, where a truck transporting some 160 migrants – most from Central America – overturned on Thursday.

Such tragedies, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said, should move the world to address “the underlying problem” – despair.

“The migration problem cannot be solved by coercive measures, but by opportunities for work and well-being. People don’t leave their villages for pleasure, they do it out of necessity,” he said.

If the United States wanted to prevent migration to its shores, added Lopez Obrador, it should invest in social programmes in Central America – a matter he has discussed with Joe Biden.

But “there is slowness,” said the Mexican leader.

The victims of Thursday’s accident, authorities said, were from Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

Most of the dead were from Guatemala, said Lopez Obrador.

The driver, who fled the scene, was allegedly speeding when he lost control of the truck.

The National Institute of Migration said it was working to identify the dead, pay for funerals and repatriate bodies. It said survivors will be allowed to stay in Mexico.

Hoping for a better life

The death toll is likely to rise, with many of the injured taken to hospital in a serious condition, according to Luis Manuel Garcia, a local civil protection official.

Selvin Lanuza, who left Guatemala hoping for a better life, boarded the truck minutes before the accident.

“I remember the screaming of the people when the trailer overturned and nothing else, just screaming. The people from the nearby houses helped us,” the 18-year-old told from a Red Cross facility where he was being treated for minor injuries.

Guatemalan authorities declared three days of national mourning, and the Vatican expressed condolences to the victims and their loved ones.

Thousands attempt the long, often dangerous, and expensive journey every year to escape violence and poverty in their home nations in South and Central America.

Mexican authorities have detected more than 190,000 migrants between January and September, three times as many as in 2020. Some 74,300 have been deported.

The United States recorded a high of 1.7 million people entering illegally from Mexico between October 2020 and September. Many were expelled.

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