Washington [US], June 28 (ANI): US President Joe Biden on Tuesday expressed grief over the death of dozens of undocumented migrants who were found dead inside an 18-wheel tractor-trailer in San Antonio, state Texas.
In a statement, Biden described Texas migrant deaths as horrifying and added the authorities are still learning all the facts about what happened.
"The tragic loss of life in San Antonio, Texas that took place yesterday is horrifying and heartbreaking. Our prayers are with those who lost their lives, their loved ones, as well as those still fighting for their lives. As always, I am grateful for the swift work of all of the Federal, state, and local first responders," Biden quoted the White House as saying.
"While we are still learning all the facts about what happened and the Department of Homeland Security has the lead for the investigation, initial reports are that this tragedy was caused by smugglers or human traffickers who have no regard for the lives they endanger and exploit to make a profit," he added.
According to the US President, this incident underscores the need to go after the multi-billion dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deathsAt least 46 people, believed to be undocumented migrants, on Monday were found dead inside an 18-wheel tractor-trailer in Texas.
Sixteen others, including 12 adults and four children, have been transported to area hospitals, with at least five of them reportedly in critical condition, according to San Antonio police and fire officials.
Those who were found alive were hot to the touch and suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion, and there was no sign of water in the refrigerated tractor-trailer and no visible working air conditioning unit, San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said. About 60 firefighters were on the scene.
Three people are in police custody, but it's unclear if they are involved in the tragedy, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told a briefing Monday night.
Police received a call on Monday evening from a person working nearby, who heard a cry for help from the 18-wheeler in the southwest of the city, approached and saw bodies inside the trailer with its doors partially open, said McManus.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is leading an investigation on an alert by San Antonio police to "an alleged human smuggling event," a spokesperson from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday.
"There are, that we know of, 46 individuals who are no longer with us, who had families, who were likely trying to find a better life. And we have 16 folks who are fighting for their lives in the hospital," San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the briefing.
"Migrants seeking asylum should always be treated as a humanitarian crisis, but this evening we're facing a horrific human tragedy," he tweeted earlier.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, on Monday night, slammed Biden for the tragedy, tweeting: "These deaths are on Biden. They are a result of his deadly open border policies." (ANI)