Survivors of the horrific truck crash in Mexico that killed 55 migrants and injured more than 100 spoke from their hospital beds how their location inside the truck determined who lived and who died.

Those unlucky enough to roll around stuck against the flimsy walls of the cargo container are almost certainly dead, survivors said. Those in the middle of the packed group survived, cushioned by their fellow migrants as the container overturned on the road.

“Those who died were those who were against the walls of the caravan,” said a young migrant from Guatemala, who was being treated for a broken arm at a local hospital. “Thank God we were in the middle, but those on the sides, they died.”

The migrant, who would not give his name because he did not have proper documents in Mexico, described a gruesome scene of screams and bloodshed in the moments after the truck crashed into the base of a steel pedestrian bridge on Thursday evening. He said around 250 migrants were on board.

First, the living had to extricate themselves from the tangle of dead and dying bodies.

“They fell on me, there were like two or three other migrants on top of me,” the youngster said.

Then came the grim task of trying to get the wounded out.

“When I came out, another migrant was screaming,” said the survivor. “He was screaming at me, I shot him, took him out and put him on the side of the road, but he died.”

The youngster said the truck driver, whose whereabouts are unknown, entered a sharp corner at high speed and lost control.

It was one of the deadliest days for migrants in Mexico since the 2010 massacre of 72 people by the Zetas drug cartel in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

While the Mexican government tries to appease the United States by stopping caravans of foot migrants and allowing the reinstatement of the “stay in Mexico” policy, it has been unable to stem the tide of migrants crammed by the hundreds into trucks operated by smugglers who charge thousands of dollars to take them to the US border – journeys that too often lead only to their deaths.

Mexican National Guard chief Luis Rodriguez Bucio said the truck managed to avoid passing through one of the road checkpoints operated by the Guard and immigration authorities to catch such contraband operations. .

Sitting stunned next to the overturned trailer moments after the crash, migrant Celso Pacheco from Guatemala said the truck felt like it was speeding up, then seemed out of control.

Most on board were from Guatemala and Honduras, he said, estimating there were eight to 10 young children among them. He said he was trying to reach the United States but now expects to be deported to Guatemala. Authorities said migrants from Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Mexico were also on board.

Those who spoke to survivors said they boarded the truck in Mexico, near the border with Guatemala, and paid between $2,500 and $3,500 to be taken to Mexico’s central state of Puebla. Once there, they would presumably contract with another group of smugglers to take them to the US border.

Andrés, a migrant from Izabal, Guatemala, said he and his brother-in-law decided together to make the dangerous journey to the northern United States. Andrés was thrown out of the truck as it rolled and crashed; his brother-in-law died in the wreckage.

“We made the decision to come together and encouraged each other,” Andrés said. “But now it’s terrible that he won’t come back alive with me.”

Despite the cautionary tale, more migrants continued on their way to the United States. On Thursday, after the crash, a group of nearly 400 migrants, mostly from Central America, drove down a highway to Mexico City, ignoring pleas from immigration officials and National Guard troops to surrender.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed poverty and lack of jobs forcing people to migrate.

“We insisted that the causes behind these unfortunate events must be addressed,” said López Obrador, who said he had lobbied the US government to invest in recovery programs. development for Central America. López Obrador said the US government is making slow progress on the issue.

After the accident in the southern state of Chiapas, the most seriously injured in the accident were carried on plastic sheets on the road. Those who could walk were led, stunned, to the same sheets. Ambulances, cars and vans were rushed to transport the injured to hospitals. Later, the dead were covered in white sheets, side by side, on the highway.

Rescuers said other migrants who were on board the truck when it crashed fled in fear of being arrested by immigration officials. A paramedic said some of those who rushed into surrounding neighborhoods were bloodied or bruised but were still limping in their desperation to escape.

Pope Francis, who visited Chiapas in 2015 and made the plight of migrants a feature of his pontificate, sent a telegram of condolences to the Archbishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez on Friday, offering prayers for the dead and their families. , and for the injured.

In October, in one of the largest explosions in recent memory, authorities in the northern border state of Tamaulipas found 652 migrants, mostly from Central America, trapped in a convoy of six cargo trucks heading for the American border.

Migrants involved in serious accidents are often allowed to stay in Mexico at least temporarily because they are seen as witnesses and victims of a crime, and Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has said it will offer humanitarian visas to survivors.

The agency also said the Mexican government would help identify the dead and cover funeral costs or repatriation of the remains.