Anger as Argentina finds 51st train victim

Discovery of 20-year-old’s body sparks riots as Argentines accuse officials of ignoring problems in rail transport.

Many commuters are furious that the government appeared to ignore repeated warnings about train issues [AFP]

Rescue workers in Argentina have found another body in the wreckage of a train that crashed two days earlier, raising the death toll to 51 and prompting angry reaction from family and friends of the victim.

Lucas Menghini Rey’s body was missed in the chaotic response to Wednesday’s crash, which has focused widespread anger at the government’s failure to protect passengers from long-known safety threats in the train system.

Relatives and friends were in tears at Friday’s news, while others keeping vigil at the station threw objects at passing buses and taxis.

Menghini Rey’s identification was confirmed by sources investigating the crash, Argentina’s state-owned Telam news agency and official Channel 7 reported.

Riot police responded to the protest with tear gas and batons, clearing the station and making arrests. At least one police officer was injured.

Some rioters started small fires and looted stores in the station as Menghini Rey’s family and friends left in tears.

While the cause of the crash remains under investigation and the motorman who failed to stop in time has yet to make a statement, many commuters are furious that the government appeared to ignore repeated warnings about problems with Argentina’s trains, including brake failures.

Many suspect corruption and mismanagement contributed to the crash, which also injured 703 of the 1,500 passengers when the eight-car train slammed into the end of the line at less than 12 mph (20 kph).

Menghini Rey had not appeared on any lists of the dead or injured, of whom about 30 of whom remain hospitalised. On Friday, city officials had announced that all other passengers had been accounted for.

His body was found after Nilda Garre, the country’s security minister, personally took over and ordered police back to the wreck, searching “even in the most impossible places”, Telam reported.

Inside the station, his family and friends stacked boxes plastered with his picture and numbers to call, along with the phrase “we are as fragile as cardboard”, a feeling shared by many after seeing how the massive train cars crumpled and crushed hundreds of passengers inside.

Menghini Rey’s family had not seen him since he said goodbye early that morning to his 3-year-old daughter, promising to bring her a toy when he came back from work at a downtown call centre.

Argentina’s third deadly train accident in less than a year has focused attention on the dilapidated passenger rail system, privatised in 1995 and heavily subsidised by the government since then to keep ticket prices low.

Source: News Agencies

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