WORLD Nine die in Texas il­le­gals tragedy

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

AT least nine peo­ple died af­ter be­ing crammed into a swel­ter­ing semi- trailer found parked out­side a Wal­mart in the mid­sum­mer Texas heat, vic­tims of what author­i­ties said yes­ter­day was an im­mi­grant- smug­gling at­tempt gone wrong.

The driver was ar­rested, and nearly 20 oth­ers res­cued from the rig were hos­pi­talised in dire con­di­tion, many with ex­treme de­hy­dra­tion and heat­stroke, of­fi­cials said.

“We’re look­ing at a hu­mantraf­fick­ing crime,” said San An­to­nio Po­lice Chief Wil­liam McManus, call­ing it “a hor­rific tragedy”. One US of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day that 17 of those res­cued were be­ing treated for in­juries that were con­sid­ered life- threat­en­ing.

Author­i­ties were called to the San An­to­nio park­ing lot at the week­end and found eight peo­ple dead in­side the truck.

A ninth vic­tim died at the hos­pi­tal, said Liz John­son, spokes­woman for US Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment.

The vic­tims “were very hot to the touch. So these peo­ple were in this trailer with­out any signs of any type of wa­ter,” San An­to­nio Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

Author­i­ties would not say whether the trailer was locked when they ar­rived, but they said it had no work­ing air con­di­tion­ing.

It was just the lat­est smug­gling- by- truck op­er­a­tion to end in tragedy. In one of the worst cases on record in the US, 19 im­mi­grants locked in­side a sti­fling rig died in Vic­to­ria, Texas, in 2003.

Based on ini­tial in­ter­views with sur­vivors of the San An­to­nio tragedy, more than 100 peo­ple may have been packed into the back of the 18- wheeler at one point in its jour­ney, ICE act­ing Di­rec­tor Thomas Ho­man said.

Of­fi­cials said 39 peo­ple were in­side when res­cuers ar­rived, and the rest were be­lieved to have es­caped or hitched rides to their next des­ti­na­tion.

Some of the sur­vivors told author­i­ties they were from Mex­ico, and four ap­peared to be be­tween 10 and 17 years old,

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