At least 50 people are known to be dead after the discovery Monday of a tractor-trailer packed with illegal immigrants in a sparsely developed area of San Antonio, Texas, according to news reports.
At least 46 bodies were in the trailer, CNN reported, with a total of 48 dead at the scene. Two more died after being hospitalized, the network reported.
Sixteen others, including four children, were hospitalized, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood announced, according to NBC News.
The victims were both male and female and many were young adults. Most of the bodies have yet to be identified, but 22 were from Mexico, seven from Guatemala and two from Honduras, NBC reported.
According to CNN, San Antonio Police Chief William P. McManus said the bodies were found after a worker in a nearby building reported hearing a cry for help and finding the trailer with its door partially opened. Bodies were visible inside, McManus said.
The San Antonio police then alerted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation unit of “an alleged human smuggling event,” CNN reported.
“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there,” Hood said, according to NBC News.
McManus said the victims were suffering or dead from the heat and did not have water or air conditioning.
“The patients that we saw were hot to the touch,” McManus said, according to NBC. “They were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion.”
“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, NBC reported.
Nirenburg said the victims had “families who were likely trying to find a better life.”
The Homeland Security team is now leading the investigation into the situation.
Three people were taken into police custody. However, their connection to the smuggling and deaths is not clear, McManus said.
This tragedy comes amid soaring numbers of illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
The waves of illegal immigration at the southwest border are some of the largest the U.S. in decades, The New York Times reported.
Just within the first three months of 2022, there were already more than 1 million Customs and Border Protection encounters on the southern border, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative immigration policy group.
That number does not include the many undetected crossing and human smuggling instances that CBP does not catch.
The tractor-trailer deaths show just how dire the situation has become.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was “heartbroken by the tragic loss of life today and am praying for those still fighting for their lives,” NBC reported.
“Far too many lives have been lost as individuals — including families, women, and children — take this dangerous journey,” Mayorkas wrote in a Twitter post.
I am 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.
— Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) June 28, 2022
Mayorkas called those who work in the human smuggling networks “callous individuals who have no regard for the vulnerable people they exploit and endanger in order to make a profit.”
But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott placed the blame squarely on President Joe Biden.
At Least 42 People Found Dead Inside Truck Carrying Migrants In Texas.
These deaths are on Biden.
They are a result of his deadly open border policies.
They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law. https://t.co/8KG3iAwlEk
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 28, 2022
“These deaths are on Biden,” Abbott wrote in a Twitter post. “They are a result of his deadly open border policies.
“They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.