Authorities in San Antonio, Texas, United States, have confirmed that at least 46 people were found dead inside a semi-truck on Monday night.
CNN reported that Adriana Rocha Garcia, a city councilwoman, said that the victims were migrants after she was briefed on the situation by the San Antonio police chief.
“It’s a horrific human tragedy,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio was quoted to have said. “There are, that we know of, 46 individuals who are no longer with us, who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life. And we have 16 folks who are fighting for their lives in the hospital.”
According to Bill McManus, the San Antonio police chief, a worker raised the alarm when they found a trailer with doors partially open and saw a number of dead people inside.
Charles Hood, the San Antonio fire chief, said that 16 survivors were taken to nearby medical facilities. Of the 16 survivors, 12 were adults and 4 were children.
Their bodies were “hot to the touch and they were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion,” Hood said. The truck had no air conditioning unit and there was no source of water in the refrigerated tractor trailer, according to Hood.
McManus said three people were in police custody, but it was unclear if they were connected to the smuggling event.
The US Department of Homeland Security’s investigation unit is investigating the alleged human smuggling event.
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there. None of us come to work imagining that,” Hood said.
People are often smuggled into the US and Europe under extreme conditions to avoid deportation from immigration services. The risks taken by desperate migrants are sometimes fatal.
About 23 Africans died while attempting to cross an international border from Morocco into Spain on Friday.
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