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46 people found dead inside 18-wheeler in Texas, US

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-06-28 09:48

Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, US, June 27, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

HOUSTON - At least 46 people, believed to be undocumented migrants, on Monday were found dead inside an 18-wheel tractor-trailer in San Antonio, a major city in south central US state Texas, authorities said.

Sixteen others, including 12 adults and four children, have been transported to area hospitals, with at least five of them reportedly in critical condition, according to San Antonio police and fire officials.

The identity of the victims and their country of origin are not immediately clear.

Those who were found alive were hot to the touch and suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion, and there was no sign of water in the refrigerated tractor-trailer and no visible working air conditioning unit, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. About 60 firefighters were on the scene.

Temperatures in San Antonio climbed to 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 degrees centigrade) on Monday, while the heat in a packed trailer was likely way higher than that, according to the US National Weather Service.

The US National Association of Medical Examiners has recommended that bodies with a temperature of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.6 degrees centigrade) or greater at the time of collapse be certified as heat-related deaths, local media said.

Three people are in police custody, but it's unclear if they are involved in the tragedy, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told a briefing Monday night.

Law enforcement officers work at the scene where dozens of people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, US, June 27, 2022 in a still image from video. [Photo/Agencies]

Police received a call on Monday evening from a person working nearby, who heard a cry for help from the 18-wheeler in the southwest of the city, approached and saw bodies inside the trailer with its doors partially open, said McManus.

The US Department of Homeland Security is leading an investigation on an alert by San Antonio police to "an alleged human smuggling event," a spokesperson from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday.

"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," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the briefing.

"Migrants seeking asylum should always be treated as a humanitarian crisis, but this evening we're facing a horrific human tragedy," he tweeted earlier.

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who is seeking a second reelection in November, on Monday night slammed US President Joe Biden for the tragedy, tweeting: "These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies."

In 2017, 10 migrants died in a packed truck carrying 39 people in San Antonio in summer. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of the city.

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