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Mexico’s President Says Carlos Slim Might Help Rebuild Collapsed Metro Line

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MEXICO CITY — The business tycoon Carlos Slim is willing to repair part of Mexico City’s subway system, the country’s president said Wednesday, after investigations found that shoddy work by Mr. Slim’s engineering firm had caused part of a metro line to collapse last month, killing 26 people.

But it was not clear whether that meant Mr. Slim would absorb any of the cost of fixing the line, which failed less than nine years after it opened.

The results of a government-commissioned probe conducted by DNV, a Norwegian risk management company, and released last week, supported the findings of an investigation published just days earlier by The New York Times. Both The Times’s and DNV’s investigations found that serious construction flaws led to the collapse of an overpass in Mexico City’s subway system, including problems with the welding and placement of metal studs, which were linchpins of the entire structure.

Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador spoke of the urgent need to “rehabilitate the line as soon as possible because more than 300,000 people travel” on it daily. Mexico City’s subway is the second largest in the Americas, after New York City’s.

The president added that he was speaking to the companies that built Line 12, the portion of the metro system that experienced the overpass collapse, to fix it and restore service as soon as possible.

The government could take them to court in an attempt to force them to foot the bill, but that could take years and the results would be uncertain.

“There is willingness from Carlos Slim, which I celebrate,” Mr. López Obrador said, but he did not elaborate. The president added that, while he had “differences” with Mr. Slim, the businessman was socially conscious and wanted to help.

Carso Group, Mr. Slim’s vast conglomerate that includes the engineering company that built the part of Line 12 that collapsed, declined to comment on the president’s remarks. The conglomerate is a sprawling empire that includes department stores, a telecommunications company and Carso Infrastructure and Construction, one of Mexico’s largest engineering companies, which built Line 12 as part of a larger consortium.

Although Mr. López Obrador has championed himself as an anti-elitist leader and a defender of Mexico’s poor, he maintains a close relationship with Mr. Slim, one of the world’s wealthiest people (and who was previously a large shareholder and creditor of The New York Times Company).

The New York Times investigation into the metro accident found that poor construction, including sloppily poured concrete, bad welding and haphazardly placed, incorrectly installed studs, led to the overpass collapse.

Echoing the Times’s investigation, DNV found that too few studs were used to fuse the structure together, and their placement was inconsistent, something that “contradicts the design” of the overpass, according to the report.

Oscar Lopez contributed reporting.


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