46 dead migrants found in an abandoned truck in Texas

They were found dead in the abandoned vehicle in San Antonio, in the southwestern United States, in a new sign of the plight of migrants in many parts of the world
Members of the Mexican National Guard at the U.S.-Mexico border

PHOTO/REUTERS  -   Members of the Mexican National Guard at the U.S.-Mexico border

46 people, believed to be migrants, were found dead in an abandoned truck near San Antonio, Texas, in the southwestern United States on Monday. The deceased may have suffocated to death due to the high temperatures.

San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood said the people died of exhaustion and overheating inside the truck, which had no air conditioning or water.

The US authorities said 16 other people were rescued alive, in varying conditions, and taken to hospitals in the city. 12 of them are adults and the other four are children, as reported by the BBC.

The truck was found in a low-traffic area near a railroad track in southwest San Antonio, about 250 kilometres from the US-Mexico border.

"A worker of one of the buildings back here heard a cry for help. He went out to investigate, found a trailer with the doors ajar, opened them to look and found several deceased people inside," said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus. He added that three people are in custody, although their involvement in the tragedy is not yet clear, as reported by the BBC. The incident is the subject of a federal investigation led by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Mexico's foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said two Guatemalans were among those taken to hospital. The nationalities of the other victims were not initially clear.

The United States is breaking records for illegal immigration, compounded by this tragedy just 250 kilometres from the Mexican border. Immigration is an issue of concern in the US, where last year a record number of undocumented immigrants were apprehended crossing into the country from Mexico, many of them travelling through very dangerous routes.

Many of these migrants try to escape poverty and violence in Central America and end up paying large amounts of cash to human smugglers to cross the border into the US. 

US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas was appalled by the tragedy and announced on the social networking site Twitter an investigation into the problem of human smuggling mafias as something to be eradicated.  "Human traffickers are insensitive people who have no regard for the vulnerable people they exploit and put at risk for profit," he said.

The problem of migrant smuggling is being replicated again, with various mafias charging large sums of money to drive them along dangerous routes in order to leave their countries to enter more developed ones in search of a better future. 

This was the basis of what also happened recently at the Melilla fence. 23 sub-Saharan migrants died in an attempt to jump the fence itself. The Moroccan government stated that the deaths were caused by the avalanche and both the Moroccan and Spanish governments defended the work carried out by the Moroccan Gendarmerie and the Spanish police in defence of the Spanish-Moroccan borders. 

Migrantes saltando la valla
PHOTO/ARCHIVE - Migrants jumping the fence

Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish President of the Government, referred to the assault as "an attack on Spain's borders" through the use of various weapons such as "axes and hooks", he told The Associated Press. "We are talking about an attempted assault on the fence that was evidently carried out in an aggressive manner, so what the Spanish state security forces and Moroccan guards did was to defend Spain's borders," Pedro Sánchez said. 

Meanwhile, Moroccan authorities attributed the deaths to a "stampede" of people in the early hours of Friday morning. 

Pedro Sánchez, in his statements to The Associated Press, blamed "international mafia groups" that damage the territorial integrity of countries and put the lives of these migrants at risk by taking advantage of their desperation. 

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.