MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - At least five people were killed when a cargo train nicknamed "La Bestia," or "The Beast," on which would-be migrants hitch rides toward the U.S. border, derailed in a remote area of southern Mexico on Sunday, emergency services said.
Luis Felipe Puente, national emergency service coordinator, said on Twitter that 35 people were injured, 16 seriously, in the accident in Huimanguillo in the southern state of Tabasco and the death toll could rise.
Ambulances were unable to reach the scene because of the difficult terrain. The site could only be reached helicopter or boat.
A photograph from the scene obtained by Reuters showed freight cars on their sides next to the tracks. Officials said eight of the 12 cars overturned, and that a Honduran man was among the dead.
"This train carries a lot of (illegal) migrants from Central America," Cesar Burelo, emergency services director in Tabasco, told local television. "(Those five) were the visible dead," he added. "It could be that as the structure of the train is removed ... more bodies could appear."
Sixteen of the injured had been transported to local hospitals, Burelo said.
He added it would be difficult to determine the total number of people who were aboard at the time of the pre-dawn accident.
"It's very likely that (surviving travelers) have left the scene."
The infamous Zeta drug gang operates along the route where the train passes, and have in the past kidnapped migrants to traffic drugs.
Migrants often jump aboard La Bestia to hitch rides under cover of darkness. At times, several hundred migrants have been found on the train, either in freight cars or sitting on top.
Mexico's foreign ministry said it was assisting Central American embassies whose citizens were affected by the crash.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Tomas Sarmiento; Writing by Simon Gardner; Editing by David Brunnstrom and Vicki Allen)