, HUIMANGUILLO, August 26- A cargo train carrying US-bound migrants derailed in a remote and swampy area of southeastern Mexico, killing at least six people and injuring several more, officials said.
The train known as “The Beast,” which carries Central American migrants who pay smugglers to sit atop freight cars, careened off the track near a river in Tabasco state before dawn on Sunday, with eight freight cars derailing, officials said.
National civil protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente said 18 people were taken to hospitals, including 17 from Honduras and one from Guatemala, all aged between 19 to 54. He had said earlier that 22 people were injured.
Tabasco public security and civil protection officials told AFP late Sunday that six people died. Three of the dead are from Honduras, the Mexican and Honduran foreign ministries said.
Security and civil protection officials in the municipality of Huimanguillo said 250 to 300 migrants were aboard the train when it crashed at a site far from any road and only accessible by air or boat.
Cranes were sent to the site to lift the freight cars and check for any other victims through the night. Rain had poured over the area in recent days.
The state’s civil protection director Cesar Burelo told Milenio television that the injured were taken to the regional hospital of Las Choapas in the neighboring state of Veracruz, which is 25 minutes away by boat.
The cause of the accident was not yet known, officials said.
The transportation ministry said the train was traveling at 10 kilometers per hour (six miles per hour), moving 55 tonnes of scrap metal in nine cars while five other wagons were empty.
The speed and weight of the train were within norms, the ministry said. It also said the tracks where the accident took place were rebuilt in 2009 and were inspected recently.
“The Beast” carries Mexican and Central American migrants who pay smugglers upwards of $100 for the right to travel from stations near Guatemala to the north of Mexico.
Local media showed pictures of freight cars lying on their side with the wheels detached from the bottom. The tracks are seen in a wooded area and covered with plants.
At least two of the injured were transported lying on the wooden flatbed of a handcar — a small four-wheeled railroad vehicle according to a picture posted on Twitter by Tabasco civil protection.
President Enrique Pena Nieto expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and his foreign ministry said it was providing information to Central American embassies.
Some 140,000 migrants enter Mexico illegally every year to travel to the United States, according to the National Human Rights Commission.
Migrants are exposed to many risks in their trek across Mexico.
Traffickers charge huge sums to help them cross the border and, once in Mexico, gangs extort them for more money. They are often robbed, raped and killed by criminal groups.
President Enrique Pena Nieto unveiled a $309 billion plan in July to modernize the country’s infrastructure, including by reviving the nation’s moribund passenger train service.