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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

16 dead, 36 injured after bus carrying Venezuelan migrants crashes in Mexico

A bus carrying Venezuelan migrants crashed into a freight truck Tuesday in central Mexico, killing at least 16 people and injuring 36, officials said.

Fifteen Mexicans and one Venezuelan were killed in the crash, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration said in a news release. The 36 injured passengers, nine of whom were Venezuelan, were transferred to the Tehuacán Hospital in Puebla, the INM said.

The accident happened early Tuesday on a highway that runs south toward Oaxaca state. The route is frequently used by migrant smugglers.

Because smugglers often use unsafe vehicles and drivers, cram too many migrants in or try to evade police, accidents involving those vehicles are not uncommon in Mexico.

The Venezuelan passengers were seeking asylum in the United States and had appointments with the CBP One program, the INM said, referring to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mobile app for asylum applications. According to the American Immigration Council, CBP One has become “the only way that Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans seeking to secure travel authorization” can submit their biometric information to the agency.

Oaxaca Gov. Salomón Jara Cruz offered his condolences to the families of those who died and said the government will support those injured in the accident.

“We deeply regret the accident that occurred on the Tehuacán-Oaxaca highway, at kilometer 91, which occurred a few hours ago,” he tweeted in Spanish. “I have instructed the heads of the relevant agencies to collaborate as necessary, as well as provide support to the injured people. We send a hug and our condolences to the families of the deceased, to whom we will also offer our full support.”

Migrants frequently use trucks and buses to travel through Mexico to reach the U.S. border.

In July, five Honduran migrants were killed and another 18 injured when the van they were riding in crashed on a road on Mexico’s southern Gulf coast. In February, 17 migrants were killed when the bus they were traveling in crashed in Puebla.

In 2021, a truck carrying migrants overturned on a highway near the southern city of Tuxtla Gutierrez, killing 56 people.

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