Officials said 46 people have been found dead and 16 others were taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses after a tractor-trailer rig containing suspected migrants was found Monday on a remote back road in southwest San Antonio.
Police Chief William McManus said a city worker at the scene was alerted to the situation by a cry for help shortly before 6 p.m. Monday.
Officers arrived to find a body on the ground outside the trailer and a partially opened gate to the trailer. Fire Chief Charles Hood said 12 of those taken to hospitals were adults and four were children. He said they were hot to the touch and dehydrated, and no water was found in the trailer.
"The patients that we saw were hot to the touch," Hood said. "They were suffering, from heat stroke, heat, exhaustion, no signs of water in the vehicle. It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer, but there was no, visible working AC unit on that rig"
An official had originally spoken on condition of anonymity because the information had not been authorized for public release. It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the U.S. border from Mexico in recent decades.
Heat poses a serious danger, particularly when temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles. Weather in the San Antonio area was mostly cloudy on Monday, but temperatures approached 100 degrees.
Authorities said in a press conference that the incident is now under a federal investigation. Law enforcement said that at least 3 people were taken into custody, but they were not named as suspects in the matter. Police said that at least 16 of the patients were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion and were conscious when they were taken to various local hospitals.