16 survivors, including four children, are ‘fighting for lives’ in hospital
At least 46 dead bodies were found in a truck’s tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, on Monday evening, in what authorities suspect may be a shocking instance of cross-border migrant trafficking gone wrong.
Another 16 people were taken to local hospitals in varying conditions, according to officials, including four children. Police have taken three people into custody.
A city worker heard a cry for help from the abandoned truck before discovering the gruesome scene, said police chief William McManus.
“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,” he said.
Texas governor Greg Abbott blamed the tragedy on the Biden administration, claiming “open borders” led to the horrific scene.
The Department of Homeland Security is investigating the incident.
Senator Roland Gutierrez calls out Gov Abbott’s ‘failed policies’
Roland Gutierrez, the Texas state senator who represents the city of Uvalde and who has been a frequent critic of the law enforcement and elected officials’ response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead, is calling out the state’s Republican governor for his policies at the southern border.
“Another example of @GregAbbott_TX failed policies,” tweeted the Democrat on Monday night, shortly after it’d been announced that at least 46 people had died while being smuggled into Texas in the back of a tractor-trailer.
“He’s now overseen the deadliest school shooting in Texas history & the largest Migrant death in Texas history, but tells us he’s got it all under control. Another avoidable tragedy. More avoidable deaths. Tragic and frustrating.”
Migrants reportedly tried to escape triple-digit temperature inside moving truck
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus has described the horrifying case that left at least 46 people attempting to enter Texas through the back of an 18-wheeler as what he believes to be the deadliest human smuggling incident he could recall in the city.
High temperatures in the San Antonio area reached up to the low 100s on Monday, according to the National Weather Service, making the temperatures inside the overpacked tractor-trailer tap into the triple digits.
Local law enforcement has released new disturbing details from the deadly smuggling incident, including one that appears to confirm that people inside the truck were reportedly trying to jump out, as their bodies were discovered along several blocks, according to the Texas Tribune.
‘Stacks of bodies’ and no sign of water
A San Antonio Fire Department official said they found “stacks of bodies” and no signs of water in the truck, which was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area on the city’s southern outskirts.
Sixteen other people found inside the trailer were transported to hospitals for heat stroke and exhaustion, including four minors, but no children were among the dead, the department said.
“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, exhaustion,” San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told a news conference.
“It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer but there was no visible working AC unit on that rig.”
Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 160 miles (250 km) from the Mexican border, swelled to a high of 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4C) on Monday with high humidity.
How political leaders have responded
Texas governor Greg Abbott blamed the Biden administration’s “deadly open border policies” for the deaths. “These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies,” he tweeted.
Mexico’s foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the “tragedy in Texas” on Twitter and said the local consulate was en route to the scene, though the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed.
Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman and Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, called the deaths in the incident “devastating” as he demanded urgent action to “dismantle human smuggling rings and replace them with expanded avenues for legal migration”.
Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was “heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today” and is “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.
Congressman Joaquin Castro said he is in touch with the secretary of homeland security, adding the agency is “working to alert their families, find everyone responsible for this crime and investigate exactly what happened”.
What we know so far
At least 46 people were found dead in a tractor-trailer that was abandoned on a remote back road in San Antonio, Texas.
Sixteen people, including four children were taken to hospital and are being treated for heat-related illnesses.
A San Antonio fire department official said they found “stacks of bodies” and no signs of water in the truck.
Three people have so far been taken into custody.
Homeland security is investigating the matter.
Homeland security secretary ‘heartbroken by the tragic loss of life’
Homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressed profound grief over the death of 46 individuals in San Antonio, Texas.
“I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives,” he tweeted. “Far too many lives have been lost as individuals — including families, women, and children — take this dangerous journey.”
Registration number on truck associated with Alamo man
The lorry found in San Antonio has the US and Texas Department of Transportation registration numbers, reported the Washington Post, adding that the state records associate an Alamo man with those numbers.
However, the man’s son-in-law, Isaac Limon, told the outlet that the number on the truck was fraudulently used by those running the smuggling operation.
He added that the truck corresponding to the registration is a Volvo hauling grain in another part of Texas last week.
“It was a perfect setup,” he told the outlet, adding that his father-in-law was shaken up by the incident. “The truck is here. I’m looking at it right now. Sad to say, but he’s a bit of a victim, too, because people believe it was him.”
‘Criminal investigation remains ongoing’: Homeland security releases statement
“On 27 June, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) responded to a call from San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) in reference to an alleged human smuggling event involving a tractor trailer on Quintana Road near Cassin Road.
“Upon arrival in the scene, HSI confirmed more than 40 deceased individuals,” the department of homeland security said in a statement released late on Monday.
“HSI San Antonio has initiated an investigation with support of SAPD. Details will be released as they are available, the criminal investigation remains ongoing.”
‘This is devastating’, says Democratic governor candidate
Beto O’Rourke, the former congressman and Democratic candidate for governor of Texas, called the deaths in the incident “devastating” as he demanded urgent action to “dismantle human smuggling rings and replace them with expanded avenues for legal migration.”
Fire chief on horror of discovering bodies: ‘None of us come to work imagining that’
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there. None of us come to work imagining that,” said San Antonio fire chief Charles Hood.
“None of these people were able to extricate themselves out of the truck, so they were still in there awaiting help when we arrived. Too weak in state to actually get out and help themselves.”