At Least 50 Migrants Dead After Being Abandoned in Sweltering Semi Truck in Texas

The tractor trailer in San Antonio contained "stacks of bodies," authorities said. More than a dozen people, including four children, were transported to local hospitals in serious and critical conditions.

At least 50 migrants have died after being abandoned in a tractor trailer truck left on a Texas road in what federal officials say is believed to be the deadliest human smuggling case in modern U.S. history.

The horrific discovery was made by a San Antonio worker who heard pleas for help and saw "stacks of bodies" in the trailer, officials said.

Initial reports Monday evening said 46 people had died. On Tuesday morning, Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the death toll had risen to 50. Obrador said 22 of the dead were Mexican nationals, while seven were from Guatemala and two from Honduras.

“This is nothing short of a horrific human tragedy,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg at a news conference near the gruesome scene. 

Sixteen people who were too weak to stand were taken to area hospitals, where they were listed in serious and critical conditions after suffering heat stroke and heat exhaustion, authorities said. Four of the patients are children. 

Temperatures in the area hovered at 101 degrees Monday. There was no evidence of air conditioning or water in the trailer, said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood.  The survivors were "hot to the touch," he said.

Federal authorities have taken the lead in the investigation and three people are in custody, but it was unclear if they were connected to the incident, officials said.

San Antonio's mayor urged compassion for the victims and their families.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying it was "horrified at this tragic loss of life near San Antonio. This speaks to the desperation of migrants who would put their lives in the hands of callous human smugglers who show no regard for human life."

The city's fire chief said first responders were being debriefed to help them recover from what they witnessed.

“We’re not supposed to open up a truck and see stacks of bodies in there,” Hood said. “None of us come to work imagining that.”

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