Death toll rises to 51 after Mexican and Guatemalan migrants ‘stacked’ in San Antonio tractor trailer

Law officials have described the San Antonio incident as one of the worst single migrant death tolls in recent years

Johanna Chisholm,Richard Hall
Tuesday 28 June 2022 22:57 BST
At least 46 bodies found in trailer, San Antonio officials say
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Officials report that the death toll in the horrific incident where bodies were found “stacked” inside a truck’s tractor-trailer near San Antonio has grown to at least 51 people.

Mexico’s foreign secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted early on Tuesday that US authorities had confirmed that at least 50 individuals had died, a figure that had grown by four since it was reported on Monday night that a trailer was discovered on a road southwest of the city’s downtown by a local worker who heard a cry for help. Later on Tuesday the death toll rose to 51.

When he came to investigate, he found the doors partially open, and a number of deceased individuals “stacked” on top of one another inside the 103F tractor-trailer.

Mr Ebrard went on to confirm that 22 of the deceased were Mexican, seven were Guatemalan and two were Honduran. There was no information about the nationalities of the other 19 victims, Mexican officials said.

“The others are yet to be identified. We are in mourning. Huge tragedy. Mexico joins investigations in the US, coordinated with DHS,” tweeted Mr Ebrard.

Initial reports suggest the victims were migrants who had recently crossed the border,

The survivors, which initially included 16 people, including four children, were taken to local hospitals suffering from heat stroke and heat exhaustion, the city’s fire chief Charles Hood told reporters at a press conference.

Mr Hood said those taken alive from the trailer were “hot to the touch”, but were likely to survive.

“It is our hope and prayer that the conditions of those that were transported will improve as we speak,” he added.

San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and San Antonio police chief William McManus (left) brief the media
San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg and San Antonio police chief William McManus (left) brief the media (AP)

San Antonio police chief William McManus said three people were in custody following a preliminary investigation, but declined to give further details. The investigation is now being handled by the Department of Homeland Security.

Images from the scene showed roads blocked and dozens of first responders surrounding what appeared to be an 18-wheeler next to railroad tracks. US Border Patrol, police, the fire department and ambulances were also at the scene.

The cause of the deaths is currently unknown, but temperatures in San Antonio and southern Texas have reached 37C in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, the US Border Patrol warned migrants not to risk their lives trying to cross the desert border following record-breaking temperatures.

“[We] highly discourage migrants from attempting to illegally enter the United States, especially during summer months. The recent triple-digit temperatures represent a dangerous condition that can easily end in dehydration or heatstroke, provoking death,” the Border Patrol’s El Paso Sector said in a statement.

Though the investigation, which was to continue on Tuesday, was still underway, Texas governor Greg Abbott was quick to blame the tragedy on president Joe Biden.

“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,” he wrote on Twitter.

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