About 600 Central American migrants are stranded in Arriaga, a city in the southeastern state of Chiapas, due to a fire in the locomotive of the train used by migrants to reach central Mexico.

The fire broke out Tuesday in Corazones, a town on the border between Oaxaca and Chiapas states, as the train, known as "The Beast," was heading to Arriaga with no migrants aboard.

The fire completely destroyed the locomotive, media reports said.

Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec, which operates the train, sent about 20 workers to remove the locomotive and repair the tracks, a job that will likely not be completed until the weekend.

The number of migrants in the area has risen because of the disruption in train service.

An estimated 300,000 Central Americans undertake the hazardous journey across Mexico each year on their way to the United States.

The trek is a dangerous one, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants.

Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes, Mexican officials say.

Central American migrants follow a long route that first takes them into Chiapas state, which is on the border with Guatemala, walking part of the way or riding aboard freight trains, buses and cargo trucks.

The flow of migrants has increased markedly in the northern and northeastern parts of Mexico since U.S. officials increased security along the border in the northwestern part of the country.

A total of 46,716 Central Americans were deported from Mexico between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2011, the INM said in a report released earlier this year.

The majority of the migrants - 41,215 - were men and nearly half, some 23,560, were from Guatemala, the National Migration Institute, or INM, said. EFE