A truck carrying immigrants with 46 bodies was found Monday after a hot day in San Antonio, Texas, and three people have been arrested, authorities said.
The tragedy, the deadliest in immigration in recent years, comes five years after a similar tragedy in the same city, where ten illegal immigrants lost their lives in a heated trailer.
“We have taken care of about 46 bodies so far,” said Charles Hood, the city’s fire chief, who told a news conference at the end of the day that the temperature had reached 40 C.
Sixteen people – twelve adults and four children – were treated and were “conscious” while being transported to nearby hospitals, he said.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said: “We are facing a terrible human tragedy tonight.
Trucks found in San Antonio, the largest city in Texas, 240 km from the Mexican border, are a frequently used means of transportation for immigrants seeking entry into the United States.
Such travel is very dangerous, especially since these vehicles are rarely air-conditioned and those in them quickly run out of water.
“The patients we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion and no water was found in the vehicle,” the fire official said.
“Call for help”
The mass grave was discovered by a man working nearby, who “heard a call for help” and reached out to see what was happening, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told a news conference.
All three were arrested, but “we do not know if they are really involved,” he said.
The investigation is now being handled by investigators from the Federal, Homeland Security Department. Said McManus.
About 60 firefighters were mobilized to care for the remains and they received psychological support, their chief Charles Hood said. “You should not open the truck and find piles of corpses in it,” he said of the injury his men suffered.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard lamented the “tragedy” on Twitter.
He suggested that the Mexican consulate in San Antonio go there and find out that two of the four children admitted to the hospital were Guatemalan nationals.
The drama was “mostly handled by smugglers”, he ruled.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott immediately seized on the tragedy by blaming Democratic President Joe Biden.
“It simply came to our notice then. They are the result of its deadly policy of open borders, ”he said.
The influx of illegal immigrants has increased significantly since Joe Biden was elected, but he has been trying to stem the flow of immigrants since he arrived at the White House by handing over this thorny file to his vice president, Kamala Harris.
In July 2017, a similar tragedy beckoned spirits: ten immigrants died in an overheated trailer parked in a supermarket parking lot near San Antonio.
At the time, immigration services indicated that the temperature in the trailer, which was held by dozens of immigrants, was likely to rise to 65 C.
The truck driver, who did not notice he was transporting about 100 people in his trailer, was sentenced to life in prison in April 2018 without parole.