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1,300 migrants avoid harm as Mexico train derails

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — A cargo train derailed in southern Mexico without causing any injuries to about 1,300 Central American migrants who had jammed onto the freight cars on their way north toward the United States, authorities said Thursday.

Luis Velasco, spokesman for the Oaxaca state civil protection agency, said the train was delayed for several hours until workers could repair the rails late Wednesday. He said it was traveling from Arriaga in neighboring Chiapas state to the Oaxaca city of Ixtepec, a common route for Central American migrants.

Migrant shelter volunteer Jose Alberto Donis said the train arrived in Ixtepec on Thursday carrying about 1,000 migrants.

It was at least the third derailment of trains carrying migrants in the last month in southern Mexico. Officials blame overloaded trains, heavy rain that loosens tracks and the lack of maintenance.

The United States has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Central American migrants crossing into its territory, particularly children traveling without any adult guardian. Three-fourths of them are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador and most say they are fleeing pervasive gang violence and crushing poverty.

Many of them also face violence and abuse from drug gangs and corrupt authorities as they travel through Mexico.

The government in Tamaulipas state, across the border from southern Texas, said in a statement that on Wednesday police rescued 158 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Cuba who had been held captive for more than two weeks in two homes in the port city of Tampico. Seven other Honduran migrants were rescued in the city of Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas, it said.

Three alleged kidnappers were detained in Tampico. Migrants told investigators their kidnappers beat them, raped the women and killed a couple and a boy in front of them, the government statement said.

Tamaulipas officials said the case was turned over to federal prosecutors.

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