My1sttoday News — Texas migrant deaths: death toll surge to 51 dead in a suspected human smuggling.
At least 51 people are dead after dozens were found inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, in a suspected case of human smuggling, local officials said Tuesday.
According to Homeland Security, 40 people believed to be migrants, have been found dead “upon arrival on the scene” in an abandoned lorry on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas Monday evening.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, citing information provided by U.S. authorities, said the death toll was at least 50, including 22 Mexican citizens, seven Guatemalan citizens and two Honduran citizens. The other victims have yet to be identified and Mexico is working with the U.S. on an investigation, according to Ebrard.
“We are in mourning,” Ebrard said in a statement Tuesday on Twitter. “Huge tragedy.”
At least 34 of the victims have been identified Tuesday afternoon, officials said at a press conference.
The incident unfolded in the south-central Texas city on Monday evening at around 5:50 p.m. local time, when a nearby worker heard a cry for help and found the tractor-trailer with the doors partially opened and the bodies of 46 people inside, according to San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus and San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood.
A fire official said 16 people including four children had also been taken to hospital, which referred as “mass casualty event.”
Chris Magnus, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), told reporters he was “horrified” by the incident.
“Horrified at this tragic loss of life near San Antonio,” Magnus said Monday. “This speaks to the desperation of migrants who would put their lives in the hands of callous human smugglers who show no regard for human life.”
The survivors were “hot to the touch” and suffering from heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
San Antonio, which is 250km (150 miles) from the US-Mexican border, is a major transit route for people smugglers.
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.
President Biden issued a statement Tuesday calling the deaths “horrifying and heartbreaking,” blaming the criminal smuggling industry for preying on migrants. Biden also highlighted the anti-smuggling campaign the U.S. has launched with its partners, saying they have made over 2,400 arrests.
“Exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit is shameful, as is political grandstanding around tragedy, and my Administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry,” President Biden said.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas took to Twitter to say that he was “heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives.”
“Far too many lives have been lost as individuals — including families, women, and children — take this dangerous journey,” he tweeted Monday night. “Human smugglers are callous individuals who have no regard for the vulnerable people they exploit and endanger in order to make a profit. We will work alongside our partners to hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable and continue to take action to disrupt smuggling networks.”