U fall out of a subway crash in Mexico City last month that killed 26 was caused by a series of defects during construction, according to preliminary results of an independent investigation.
The findings may give a blow to Foreign Minister and presidential hopeful Marcelo Ebrard, who was the capital’s mayor when the line was built, and Carlos Slim, Mexico’s richest man, who so Carso Infrastructure and Construction Company built the infrastructure.
Slim, one of the closest businesses to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is also building a share of the president’s flagship May train in the Yucatan Peninsula.
According to the report by Norwegian group DNV, made public at a press conference Wednesday, the accident was caused by “structural defects associated with deficiencies in the construction process.”
They included missing pins, the use of a type of concrete inconsistent with the original design, among other discrepancies, and a poorly executed weld.
A Carso spokesman did not have immediate comments. Arturo Elías, Slim’s son-in-law and spokesman, said he would not comment until the investigation is complete. In a statement, Ebrard defended the design and execution of the line, saying all decisions were made “based on efficiency and technical attitude” by experts and officials.
Claudia Sheinbaum, mayor of Mexico City, stressed that the findings regarding the “terrible tragedy” were preliminary. DNV plans to release two more sets of findings, on July 14th and August 30th.
She said an experienced commission will present a rehabilitation plan in a month. It will be up to the city’s attorney general to determine responsibility for the accident, he added.
López Obrador complained about the accident but he said “Poor, hardworking, good guys” in the area where the horse fell “understand that these things unfortunately happen.”
Wednesday, before the release of the preliminary findings, he expressed his support for Sheinbaum, who is widely considered his favorite candidate to succeed him as president.
The elevated section of Line 12 of the metro, called the “Golden Line,” fell without warning on a busy road about five feet below nightfall on May 3 on a southeastern outskirts of the capital.
The line of one of the world’s busiest metro services has been plagued by problems, including the premature wear and tear of train wheels and rails, since its opening in 2012.
It was inaugurated by Ebrard in the last months of his tenure as mayor. Criticism for its design and construction emerged shortly after Ebrard left the post, and the state auditor’s office said there had been shortages, irregularities and poor work.
The line was partially closed in 2014-15 to repair what authorities have described at the time as structural defects. Four stations were also closed after an earthquake hit the capital in 2017.
Preliminary DNV findings seemed to support one investigation by the New York Times, which found that the steel pins essential for the riding force had been badly welded, causing the collapse. López Obrador and Sheinbaum questioned the impartiality of these and other reports.
In a 15-page document, Ebrard denied some of the NYT’s allegations, saying “the questions… In some cases, are based on false assumptions or appear to suggest conclusions or assume an opposing stance.”