A look back at some of the deadliest incidents involving trafficked migrants in trucks or shipping containers

Toll now at 53 in San Antonio as families wait for answers (Photo: ABC News (Australia) / YouTube)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A Mexican immigration official says that in the chaotic minutes after dozens of migrants were found dead inside a tractor-trailer sweltering in the Texas heat, the driver tried to slip away by pretending to be one of the survivors.

The driver and two other men from Mexico remained in custody Wednesday as the investigation continued into the tragedy that killed 53 people in the nation’s deadliest smuggling episode on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The head of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute says at least 27 of the victims were from Mexico, 14 were from Honduras, seven were from Guatemala and two were from El Salvador.

Here’s a global look at some of the deadliest incidents involving trafficked migrants in trucks or shipping containers in the past 22 years:

  • June 27, 2022: 53 migrants died after being abandoned in a sweltering tractor-trailer on a remote back road in San Antonio.
  • October 23, 2019: 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in a truck trailer in Essex, England. Four men were jailed for manslaughter.
  • July 23, 2017: Eight immigrants were found dead in a sweltering trailer at a San Antonio Walmart parking lot. Two others died later in hospitals. The driver was sentenced to life in prison.
  •  Feb. 20, 2017: 13 African migrants suffocated inside a shipping container while being transported between two towns in Libya. A total of 69 migrants, most from Mali, were packed into the container, according to the local Red Crescent branch.
  • Aug. 27, 2015: Austrian police discovered an abandoned truck containing the bodies of 71 migrants, including eight children, from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The truck, found along a highway, had crossed into Austria from Hungary.
  • April 4, 2009: 35 Afghan migrants suffocated inside a shipping container in southwestern Pakistan. Authorities said that more than 100 people were packed inside the container.
  • April 9, 2008: 54 Burmese migrants suffocated in the back of an airtight refrigerated truck in Ranong, Thailand.
  • May 14, 2003: 19 migrants died inside a sweltering tractor-trailer while they traveled from South Texas to Houston.
  •  June 18, 2000: 58 Chinese immigrants were found dead inside a truck in the English port town of Dover. The Dutch truck had transported the immigrants across the English Channel from Belgium. Two people survived.
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