While the sun beats down on Texas, more than 50 migrants were found inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, having died from exposure to the harsh conditions and blistering summer heat.
Rebeca Clay-Flores, Commissioner of Precinct 1, said the casualties stand at 51 and included 39 men and 12 women. Initially the death toll was 46 migrants, but five who were taken to hospital for treatment, later died while in care.
Although the migrants’ home countries are still unknown, according to the San Antonio Police Chief William McManus did say that the group was part of a smuggling effort to illegally enter the United States.
The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard, tweeted that those who had died included 22 from Mexico, along with two from Honduras and seven came from Guatemala and the truck is believed to have entered through the Laredo checkpoint.
A nearby worker discovered the trailer on Monday evening, when he heard cries for help coming from inside. After discovering that there were people inside that were dead, the worker called for help.
The San Antonio Fire Department Chief, Charles Hood said the 46 individuals that were discovered dead, appeared to have succumbed to heat stroke and the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s office is investigating the death, requesting help from surrounding counties.
According to Hood, the tractor-trailer was refrigerated but not did not have any working air-conditioning, nor was there any water available for those on board. The adults who managed to survive until they were discovered, had become too weak to get out of the vehicle.
Sixteen people were sent to area hospitals, according to first responders and included four pediatric patients and twelve adults – all suffering from heat exhaustion.
Three people are now in custody, according to McManus, who told the media that their connection with the trailer was still not entirely clear yet and added that one person who was discovered in a nearby field may have been attempting to pass themselves off as a survivor, and the remaining two who were arrested, were taken into custody from a nearby home.
They were discovered in southern Bexar County, after a license plate number was provided by a witness when a truck fled the scene. They are currently in federal custody and may face charges of conspiracy to transport migrants which resulted in their deaths.
Authorities are also investigating where the license plate came from, which appears to be registered with the Texas Department of Transportation, however they stated that the numbers are likely fraudulent.
This is not the first time a large group of migrants have been discovered dead in San Antonio and the incident is being called the biggest mass casualty since July 2017 when eight migrants were discovered dead when they were trapped inside a truck which was parked at a Walmart.
James Matthew Bradley Jr, the driver of that truck, was handed a life sentence in prison when he pled guilty to one count of transporting migrants that resulted in their death.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, pinned the incident on Joe Biden, tweeting: “These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies.”