SAN ANTONIO – The bodies of two people believed to be immigrants from Mexico to Texas were found Friday, along with 13 others, at least five in critical condition, inside a shipping container on a train in Uvalde County. , officials said.
The train, which was stopped by U.S. Border Patrol agents, was traveling near Nippa through a Texas region known for frequent immigration crossings.
Around 3:50 p.m., a person called 911 and told dispatchers that about 12 to 15 people were experiencing severe symptoms of dehydration and were trapped in a shipping container in an area that has seen spring temperatures in the 80s in recent days, said Daniel Rodriguez of Uvalde, about 11 miles west of Nippa. Chief of Police “The way they said it, they were suffocating — they were having trouble breathing,” he said.
Uvalde Mayor Dan McLaughlin Jr. said it was not clear whether the call came from inside the container or if one of the people trapped inside called a relative for help.
Local police immediately contacted U.S. Border Patrol agents, who were able to stop the train three miles east of Nippa, a town of fewer than 1,000 people, the chief said. When Border Patrol agents arrived, the container was locked and “barbed shut,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
When officers opened the container, they found two of the occupants dead and several others severely dehydrated, the mayor said.
Chief Rodriguez said five people were taken in critical condition to hospitals in San Antonio, about 60 miles east, and five others were taken by ambulance to area hospitals. Three others are receiving treatment at the scene, he said.
Images from a local news outlet showed a heavy police presence as local and state police personnel and US Border Patrol agents descended on the rural border area and helicopters hovered over a freight train near Highway 90.
Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety plan to take the lead in investigating what led to the tragedy, Chief Rodriguez said.
The grim discovery comes months after more than 50 migrants were found dead inside an overheated tractor trailer in San Antonio, part of a complex pattern of human traffickers abandoning migrants in desolate areas without regard for their safety, authorities said. Schools remain on lockdown as Border Patrol agents pursue migrants to avoid authorities in populated areas.
“We need to address what’s happening in South Texas,” said Mr. McLaughlin said. “The loss of human life is a tragedy — two lives that should be lost. It happens here every week — not in Uvalde, but in South Texas.
Chief Rodriguez said the deaths add to the grief the small community of Uvalde has been experiencing since last May’s mass shooting when a teenage gunman opened fire inside Raab Elementary School, killing 19 children and two teachers.
“These people, they put themselves in great danger, trying to come to the United States,” the president said. “It is tragic that two people lost their lives. This is a tragedy in a town that has seen many tragedies.”