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‘STACKS of bodies’ are discovered inside Texas tractor trailer as 46 migrants are confirmed dead ‘due to heat stroke’ and survivors are described as ‘hot to the touch’ in one of America’s deadliest human trafficking incidents
- At least 46 people were found dead inside an abandoned tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas on Monday
- Another 16 people, including four children, were rushed to hospitals to treat heatstroke and dehydration
- It may be the deadliest incident connected to illegal smuggling of people across the southern U.S. border
- Heat poses a serious danger in southern Texas, and temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles
- Fire department chief said the trailer was refrigerated, but that the air conditioning was not functioning
- Three people were taken into custody, though police are yet to establish whether they are ‘absolutely connected to this or not’
At least 46 people were found dead inside an abandoned tractor-trailer on Monday in San Antonio, Texas, in what appears to be one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A San Antonio Fire Department official said they found ‘stacks of bodies’ and no signs of water in the truck, which was discovered next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts.
Sixteen other people, including four children, were found alive inside the trailer, but were rushed to nearby hospitals for heat stroke and exhaustion.
The victims’ causes of death have not yet been confirmed, though extreme heat was the suggested cause.
‘The patients that we saw were hot to the touch. They were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,’ fire chief Charles Hood said in a press briefing.
‘[There were] no signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated trailer, but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.’
Texas has been experiencing a near-record heat wave, and temperatures in San Antonio reached at least 103 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said three individuals were taken into custody, but that it had not been established whether they were ‘absolutely connected to this or not.’
Body bags lie at the scene where a tractor trailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday, June 27, 2022, in San Antonio
San Antonio Police chief McManus said he could not confirm if all the victims had been found, and that canine units would be deployed in the morning to continue searching
Onlookers stand near the scene where the semitrailer was found on Monday in South Texas
The truck was found abandoned by auto salvage yards and railroad tracks around 6:00pm by an individual who worked nearby.
Chief McManus said the individual ‘heard a cry for help and came out to investigate.’ He said that the individual found the trailer’s doors partially opened upon arrival.
McManus said he could not confirm whether all the victims had been found.
‘We had our canines out there going through the woods and we may have to do that again tomorrow in the light of day,’ he said.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the 46 who died had ‘families who were likely trying to find a better life’.
‘The plight of migrants seeking refuge is always a humanitarian crisis,’ said Nirenberg.
‘But tonight we are dealing with a horrific human tragedy.’
Locals said that the location where the truck was found was a known drop-off point for migrants, according to The New York Times.
‘You can tell they just got here. We see them with backpacks or asking for food or money,’ Ruby Chavez, 53, told The New York Times.
‘They know this area. They jump off the train and get picked up,’ Chavez’s husband said.
The truck was found abandoned by railroad tracks and salvage yards by an individual who worked nearby.
An ambulance leaves the scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio
It may be the deadliest incident connected to illegal smuggling of people across the southern US border.
Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck that was parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio.
Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in U.S. border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.
Prior to that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border.
As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the U.S., migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more.
Heat poses a serious danger, and temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles.
Police block the scene. It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the U.S. border from Mexico in recent decades
Police block the scene where a semitrailer with multiple dead bodies were discovered