An abandoned semi-truck was found in a remote part of the southwest side of San Antonio, Texas.
At least 53 people, most of them believed to be migrants crossing into US from Mexico, have died, according to reports.
Four people have been charged in connection to the case.
At least 53 people, most of them believed to be migrants, have died since they were found in an abandoned semi-truck on Monday in a remote part of southwest San Antonio, Texas, according to multiple news reports.
The latest death toll came Wednesday after authorities initially reported that 46 individuals were found dead in and near the truck and 16 were hospitalized. Among the dead are 40 men and 13 women, USA Today reported, citing the Bexar County Public Information Office.
The office was not available to respond to comments from Insider.
Two more individuals died on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. Earlier Tuesday, three people died at the Baptist Medical Center, The New York Times reported. Local authorities said in a press conference on Monday that the hospitalized individuals appeared to be suffering from heat exhaustion after San Antonio experienced triple-digit temperatures that day.
Most of the victims are suspected to be migrants entering the US illegally, according to the Department of Justice.
Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard tweeted Tuesday that the deceased included 22 Mexicans, seven Guatemalans, two Hondurans, and others yet to be identified.
—Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) June 28, 2022
As of Wednesday, four people were in custody in connection to what's being considered one of the deadliest cases of human smuggling in recent years.
One individual, Homero Zamorano, 45, was detained on Monday at the scene near Quintana Road where the truck was found, the Justice Department wrote in a news release. He's being charged with one count of smuggling undocumented people resulting in death.
Christian Martinez, 28, of Palestine, Texas, who was in contact with Zamorano at the time of the suspected smuggling, according to the DOJ, is also being charged with one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented people resulting in death.
Federal prosecutors also charged two men — Juan Claudio D'Luna-Mendez and Juan Francisco D'Luna-Bilbao — on Tuesday for illegal weapons possession and for being in the US illegally. The two were seen leaving the home at an address under which the semi-truck was registered.
The truck was first spotted by a nearby worker and called authorities around 6 p.m., San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said during a press conference near where the truck was found on Monday. The US Department of Homeland Security is leading the investigation, he said.
Chief Charles Hood of the San Antonio Fire Department initially confirmed that 46 bodies have been "triaged, tagged, and declared deceased."
The injured included 12 adults and four children, who were "hot to the touch" and taken to nearby hospitals, Hood said.
The individuals were inside a refrigerated truck that appeared to have no working air conditioner, he added.
A video posted by KSAT 12, a San Antonio-based news outlet, showed a long line of emergency response vehicles and personnel at the scene, parked behind what appears to be the semi-truck in question.
—Dillon Collier (@dilloncollier) June 28, 2022
The tractor-trailer was found by the intersection of Quintana and Cassin roads located on the southwest side of San Antonio, according to the local news outlet.
The Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond for comment from Insider.
Individuals crossing the US border from Mexico often face a perilous journey, in many cases depending on smugglers who pack large numbers of people into vehicles, according to The Times.
In August 2021, at least 10 people died and 20 were injured after the van they were in crashed about 80 miles north of the Mexico border. In March 2021, an SUV packed with about 25 people collided with a big rig, leaving 13 people dead.
President Joe Biden said in a tweet on Tuesday that his administration "will continue to do everything possible to stop criminal smugglers from exploiting migrants."
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