At least 42 migrants were found dead Monday in a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas, state Governor Greg Abbott said, in what appears to be one of the deadliest recent incidents of people smuggling along the US-Mexico border.
Mexican 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 crime scene, although the nationalities of the victims had not been confirmed.
A US official told The Associated Press that 15 others were taken in the truck to hospitals in the San Antonio area. He spoke on condition of anonymity as the information was not authorized for public release. A San Antonio Fire Department official later said children were also being taken to the hospital.
The truck was found next to the tracks in a remote area on the southern outskirts of the city, local television channel KSAT reported.
The San Antonio Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It is arguably the deadliest tragedy of the thousands of people who have died in recent decades trying to cross the US border from Mexico. Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped in a truck parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a blistering truck southeast of San Antonio.
Big rigs emerged as a popular method of smuggling in the early 1990s, amid a wave of U.S. border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.
Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded frontier. When crossing the road became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the US, migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more.
Temperatures in San Antonio, about 250 kilometers from the Mexican border, rose to 39 C on Monday with high humidity.