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46 migrants found dead in semi-trailer truck in Texas

#migrants #dead #semitrailer #truck #Texas

At least 46 migrants were found dead Monday in and around a semi-truck that was abandoned on the side of the road on the outskirts of the Texas city of San Antonio.

The horrifying discovery was one of the worst disasters involving migrants in the United States in recent years – and came five years after a similar deadly incident in the same central Texas city, just hours from the Mexico border.

“At this point we have processed approximately 46 bodies that have been sighted and tagged and pronounced dead,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told reporters.

He said 16 people were taken to hospital alive and conscious – 12 adults and four children.

There was initially no information on the age or nationality of the deceased.

“The patients we saw were hot to the touch, suffering from heat exhaustion, heat exhaustion, no signs of water in the vehicle, it was a refrigerated articulated lorry but there was no visible working air conditioning on that scaffold,” Hood said.

Officials said three people are being held in custody over the incident.

“Tonight we are dealing with a terrible human tragedy,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a news conference.

“So I urge you all to think compassionately and pray for the dead, the sick and the families,” he said.

“And we hope that those responsible for putting these people in such inhumane conditions will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

San Antonio, located about 150 miles from the border, is an important transit route for people smugglers.

It was also hit by a record-breaking heatwave, and temperatures in the area hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.5 degrees Celsius) on Monday.

The vehicle was found on a road near Highway I-35, a major US artery that stretches to the border with Mexico.

A massive emergency operation involving the police, fire brigade and ambulance was underway at the crime scene.

Authorities were first alerted by an 911 call around 5:50 p.m., according to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.

“A worker working in one of the buildings up here behind me heard a call for help,” he told reporters, “came out to check, found a trailer with the doors partially open, opened them to take a look, and found a number of deceased inside.”

He said the investigation had been turned over to the Federal Department of Homeland Security.

– ‘A better life’ –

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who supports a hard line on immigration, slammed President Joe Biden over the disaster — blaming his “deadly open borders policy.”

“These deaths are Biden’s fault,” Abbott tweeted. “They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”

Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the incident a “tragedy” and said the Mexican consul was on his way to the site.

Ebrard said the nationalities of the victims are not yet known, but two Guatemalans are among the survivors.

San Antonio was the scene of a similar migrant tragedy in 2017, when 10 people suffocated to death in a muggy trailer bound for the United States with broken air conditioning and clogged vents.

Dozens more had been hospitalized with heat exhaustion and dehydration – with the truck believed to have contained up to 200 people, most of whom fled when it stopped in a car park. The truck driver later pleaded guilty in connection with the deaths.

“Lord, have mercy on them. They hoped for a better life,” Gustavo Garcia-Siller, Archbishop of San Antonio, tweeted after news of the horrific discovery broke Monday.

“Once again, the lack of courage to confront immigration reform kills and destroys.”

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#migrants #dead #semitrailer #truck #Texas

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