At least 15 killed after a bus carrying mostly migrants crashes in Mexico

Crashes and unsafe transport have become the leading cause of death for migrants travelling north to the US border.

Mexico migrants
A soldier walks by a part of the wreckage of a crashed bus that was carrying migrants in Oaxaca state, Mexico, on August 22 [Jose de Jesus Cortes/Reuters]

At least 15 people were killed when a crowded bus carrying primarily Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers collided with a trailer on a highway in Mexico on Tuesday.

The crash is the latest tragedy to unfold on the country’s highways, where road conditions can be perilous and organised crime can hold sway over certain routes.

Tuesday’s collision occurred on a highway connecting the states of Puebla and Oaxaca, a route known to be used by migrant smugglers. At least 36 others were injured, according to the Puebla government.

The identities of those killed — and whether they were all from Venezuela — were not immediately clear in the wake of the incident, though government sources indicated that most of the passengers were from that country.

Oaxaca Governor Salomon Jara Cruz said he had instructed authorities to provide support to the injured.

“We send a hug and our condolences to the families of the deceased,” he wrote on social media.

The bus driver’s identity has yet to be released, and it was not immediately known who orchestrated the journey.

Road accidents and unsafe transport have become a leading cause of death for migrants and asylum seekers attempting to travel from Mexico’s southern border to the United States. Smugglers often use unsafe vehicles, packed to the brim with travellers.

Tuesday’s deadly collision comes just weeks after 18 people were killed on August 3, when a bus carrying migrants plummeted into a ravine in the northwestern state of Nayarit.

In July, another bus — this time in Oaxaca — plunged off a steep road, killing as many as 27 people. Another 18 people were killed in a crash in April. And in February, migrants from Venezuela, Colombia, and Central America were involved in a bus crash between Oaxaca and Puebla that left at least 17 dead.

One of the deadliest incidents in recent years came in December 2021, when a trailer carrying 160 migrants crashed into a pedestrian bridge in the southern state of Chiapas. That collision left 56 people — mostly Guatemalan citizens — dead.

Crashes are just one of the many perils migrants and asylum seekers face as they journey north to the US-Mexico border, a common destination. Many must also confront dangerous jungle passages, criminal gangs, and the risk of extended detention.

In late July, Panama’s government reported that, since January, a record number of people had crossed the Darien Gap, an inhospitable stretch of jungle connecting Central and Southern America. More than 248,901 had travelled through the route, many of them children.

More than 100,000 were from Venezuela, which has seen a massive exodus amid a humanitarian crisis and years of economic turmoil. The COVID-19 pandemic, government reforms and Western sanctions against the government of President Nicolas Maduro have contributed to the country’s economic slowdown.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies