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United States: “Horrible tragedy” in Texas, 46 migrants found dead in a truck

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Aerial view of a truck in which migrants were found dead in San Antonio, Texas on June 27, 2022 (Getty/Jordan Vonderhaar) A truck carrying migrants was discovered Monday with 46 bodies in its trailer in San Antonio, in Texas, after a hot day, and three people were arrested, authorities said. The tragedy, one of the worst in migration in recent years in the United States, comes five years after a similar tragedy in the same city in the south of the country, where ten illegal immigrants lost their lives in an overheated trailer. “We have so far taken care of approximately 46 bodies,” said Charles Hood, fire chief of San Antonio, during a press conference held at the end of a day when the temperature approached 40°C. . Sixteen people — twelve adults and four children — were treated and were “conscious” while being transported to nearby hospitals, he said. Map locating San Antonio, Texas (USA), where a truck containing dozens of migrant corpses was found on June 27 ( AFP / ) “We are facing a horrible human tragedy tonight”, commented Ron Nirenberg , mayor of San Antonio. “We hope that those responsible for placing these people in such inhumane conditions will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” Trucks such as the one found in San Antonio, a large city in Texas about 240 km from the border with Mexico, are a means of transport frequently used by migrants wishing to enter the United States. Such a trip is extremely dangerous, especially since these vehicles are rarely air-conditioned and their occupants quickly run out of water. “The patients we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, heat exhaustion, no water was found in the vehicle,” the fire chief said. – “Call for help” – The mass grave was discovered shortly before 6:00 p.m. Monday (2300 GMT) by a man working nearby, who “heard a call for help” and approached to see what it was, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told the press conference. Police and firefighters near a truck in which migrants were found dead in San Antonio, Texas, on June 27, 2022 ( AFP / Sergio FLORES ) Three people were arrested, he said, but “we don’t know if they are absolutely related to this or not”. The federal investigation was opened for “suspicions of human trafficking”, announced the Ministry of Homeland Security, in charge of the investigations. Some 60 firefighters have been mobilized to take care of the remains and will receive psychological support, said their chief Charles Hood. – “Tragedy” – Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard regretted on Twitter a “tragedy”. Location of the deaths and disappearances of migrants recorded by the Missing migrants project of the International Organization for Migration on the Caribbean-United States route and at the border between Mexico and the United States, since 2014 ( AFP / ) It has indicated that the Mexican consul in San Antonio had visited the site and had learned that two of the four children hospitalized were of Guatemalan nationality. The tragedy “was most likely perpetrated by traffickers”, he judged. Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott immediately seized on the tragedy to blame it on Democratic President Joe Biden. “These deaths are (the responsibility of) Biden. They are the result of his deadly policy of open borders,” he attacked. A fire engine near the site where migrants were found dead in a truck, on June 27, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas ( AFP / Sergio FLORES ) Arrivals of illegal immigrants rose sharply after the election of Joe Biden, although the latter has been trying since his arrival at the White House to stem the influx of migrants. Mr Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, called for ‘dismantling human trafficking lines and replacing them with more dedicated pathways for legal immigration that reflect our values ​​and the needs of our country “. Pope Francis expressed Tuesday his “pain” for this “tragedy”, which he compared to that of the Spanish enclave of Melilla in Morocco, where at least 23 migrants perished on Friday. The UN said it was “deeply troubled”. Number of deaths and disappearances of migrants per year in the Americas since 2014, particularly at the border between the United States and Mexico, according to IOM data (AFP / ) “This is not the first tragedy of its kind , and this illustrates once again the crucial need for safe legal channels for migration,” said a spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, from Geneva. In July 2017, a similar tragedy had marked the spirits: ten migrants had died in an overheated trailer parked in a supermarket parking lot near San Antonio. At the time, the immigration services indicated that the temperature in the trailer, where dozens of migrants had taken place, could have risen to 65°C. The driver of the truck had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

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