Death toll rises to 51 migrants after being abandoned inside a truck in Texas

Death Toll Rises To 51 Migrants After Being Abandoned Inside a Truck In Texas

Washington – Some 51 people have died after being abandoned in a truck trailer in the sweltering Texas heat, one of the worst tragedies to claim the lives of migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. More than a dozen people had been taken to hospitals, including four children.

The truck driver and two other people were arrested, Texas US Rep. Henry Cuellar told The Associated Press.

In addition, he noted that the truck had passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint northeast of Laredo, Texas, on Interstate 35. He did not know if the migrants were inside the truck when it passed through the checkpoint.

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Forty-six people were found dead near the scene, authorities said. Five others later died after being taken to hospitals, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the county’s chief judge.

The dead included 39 men and 11 women, it added.

Faced with the tragedy, the United States government promised on Tuesday to continue fighting human trafficking.

“We are focused on continuing our historic actions to disrupt these human trafficking networks, including new campaigns that in just two months have already resulted in 1,800 arrests,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Jane told a news conference. Pierre.

This is what the area looked like where the truck was found on a remote neighborhood road in San Antonio. (EFE Agency)

Initially, 46 migrants were reported dead in the truck, and on Tuesday four more were reported to have died in hospital.

Initially, 46 migrants were reported dead in the truck, and on Tuesday four more were reported to have died in hospital. (The Associated Press)

The victims include 39 men and 11 women, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the top local public official.

The victims include 39 men and 11 women, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, the top local public official. (The Associated Press)

Spectators are illuminated by the lights of the authorities in the macabre scene.

Spectators are illuminated by the lights of the authorities in the macabre scene. (The Associated Press)

Border crossings have cost thousands of lives in recent decades as people look north for a better future.

Border crossings have cost thousands of lives in recent decades as people look north for a better future. (The Associated Press)

A city employee heard a call for help from the truck shortly before 6 pm Monday and discovered the scene.

A city employee heard a call for help from the truck shortly before 6 pm Monday and discovered the scene. (EFE Agency)

Authorities block the scene where the truck was located.

Authorities block the scene where the truck was located. (The Associated Press)

In 2003, the bodies of 19 migrants were found in an abandoned truck southeast of San Antonio in intense heat.

In 2003, the bodies of 19 migrants were found in an abandoned truck southeast of San Antonio in intense heat. (The Associated Press)

Priests also arrived at the place.

Priests also arrived at the place. (The Associated Press)

In 2017, 10 migrants died trapped in a truck parked at a Walmart in San Antonio.

In 2017, 10 migrants died trapped in a truck parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. (The Associated Press)

Searchers and dogs work on the scene, June 28, 2022, in San Antonio.

Searchers and dogs work on the scene, June 28, 2022, in San Antonio. (The Associated Press)

An ambulance leaves the area where the bodies of dozens of migrants were found in San Antonio, Texas.

An ambulance leaves the area where the bodies of dozens of migrants were found in San Antonio, Texas. (The Associated Press)

In the center the mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg.

In the center the mayor of San Antonio, Ron Nirenberg. (The Associated Press)

An officer from San Antonio protects the scene.

An officer from San Antonio protects the scene. (The Associated Press)

Jean-Pierre called what happened “absolutely horrific and heartbreaking” and assured that the country’s president, Joe Biden, who is in Madrid to attend the NATO summit, is being regularly informed about it.

The spokeswoman lamented that human trafficking networks “have no consideration for human lives” and that they only exploit them and put them in danger to achieve profit.

The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, reported, for his part, that among the deceased are at least 22 Mexicans, 7 Guatemalans and 2 Hondurans.

Among the 16 people taken to hospitals with heat-related conditions were 12 adults and four children, Fire Chief Charles Hood said. The patients were hot to the touch and dehydrated, and no water was found in the vehicle, he said.

“They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,” Hood said. “It was a refrigerated trailer, but there was no visible air conditioning unit that would work on that truck.”

Families of migrants from Mexico and Central America were desperately seeking news of their loved ones as authorities began the grim task of identifying the people who died.

It is one of the deadliest tragedies that have claimed thousands of lives trying to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades. Ten migrants died in 2017 after becoming trapped inside a truck that was parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a suffocating truck southeast of that same Texas city.

The south of the state has long been the area of ​​choice for illegal border crossings. The migrants pass through the Border Patrol checkpoints in vehicles to San Antonio, the first major city, from where they disperse throughout the United States.

Yesterday, a municipal worker who was on a remote race in southwest San Antonio was alerted to the situation by a cry for help shortly before 6:00 pm, said Police Chief William McManus. Agents arrived to find a body on the ground outside the truck and a partially open tonneau door, he added.

Hours later, body bags lay strewn on the ground near the trailer in a grim reminder of the tragedy. There were still bodies inside.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the deceased had “families who were probably trying to find a better life.”

Migrants seeking asylum should always be treated as a humanitarian crisis, but this evening we’re facing a horrific human tragedy.

More than 40 hopeful lives were lost. I urge you to think compassionately, pray for the deceased, the ailing, and their families at this time.

— Major Ron Nirenberg (@Ron_Nirenberg) June 28, 2022

“This is nothing short of a horrible human tragedy,” Nirenberg said.

The people aboard the truck were part of a suspected migrant smuggling attempt and Homeland Security Investigations was conducting an investigation, McManus said.

Trailers became a popular method of smuggling in the early 1990s, following increased border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, then the busiest corridors for migrants entering from illegally in the United States.

Before that, people paid small fees to makeshift operators to help them cross the border, which was then less guarded. After crossings became more difficult after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, migrants were herded through more dangerous regions and in exchange for thousands of dollars.

Heat is a serious hazard, especially when temperatures can get very high inside vehicles. The weather in the San Antonio area was mostly cloudy Monday, but temperatures hovered around 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some activists related the tragedy to the immigration policies of the government of President Joe Biden. Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director for the American Immigration Council, wrote that he had feared such an incident for months.

“With the border as closed as it is today to migrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, people have increasingly been pushed onto more dangerous routes. Truck smuggling is one way in,” he stated on Twitter.

Stephen Miller, one of the main architects of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policy, said that “smugglers and human traffickers are evil and evil” and that the administration’s approach to border security rewards their actions.

For his part, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who is up for re-election in November, was blunt about the Democratic president in a tweet: “These deaths are Biden’s fault. They are the result of his deadly open border policies.”

With information from EFE and AP.



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