At least 46 people, believed to be migrants, have been found dead in an abandoned lorry on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas in one of the most deadly recent incidents of human smuggling along the U.S. – Mexico border.
A fire official said sixteen people, including four children, had also been taken to hospital.
The survivors were “hot to the touch” and suffering from heat stroke and heat exhaustion. The vehicle, which had been abandoned by its driver, had no working air conditioning, and there was no drinking water inside it.
San Antonio in Texas, a major transit route for migrant smugglers
Temperatures in San Antonio, a major transit route for people smugglers about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius) on Monday with high humidity.
Human traffickers often use lorries to transport undocumented migrants after meeting them in remote areas once they have managed to cross into the United States.
“They had families…and were likely trying to find a better life,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “It’s nothing short of a horrific, human tragedy.”
Emergency responders initially arrived at the scene at about 6:00 pm local time (11:00 pm GMT) after responding to reports of a dead body, San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood told reporters.
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there. None of us come to work imagining that,” he said.
Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said that two Guatemalans were among those taken to hospital. The nationalities of the other victims was not immediately clear.
Three people are being held in custody and the investigation has been handed over to federal agents.