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46 migrants found dead in truck as human smuggling trip on US-Mexico border goes horribly wrong

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46 people are dead in the back of a truck after it is suspected they were transported over the US-Mexico border.

As many as 46 migrants were found dead inside a truck on Monday in San Antonio, Texas in a tragic incident of human smuggling along the US-Mexico border.

A San Antonio Fire Department official said they found "stacks of bodies" and no signs of water in the truck, which was found next to railroad tracks in a remote area of the city, according to a Reuters report.

Sixteen people were found alive inside the trailer and were taken to to hospitals as they were suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion. There were four children among them.

"The patients that we saw were hot to the touch, they were suffering from heat stroke, exhaustion," San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood told a news conference. "It was a refrigerated tractor-trailer but there was no visible working A/C unit on that rig."

Temperatures in San Antonio, which is about 250 km from the Mexican border soared 39.4 degrees Celsius on Monday with high humidity.

A person who works in a nearby building heard a cry for help and came out to investigate. The worker found the trailer doors partially opened and looked inside and found a number of dead bodies, CNN reported citing a local police official.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the incident and their role is being investigated, the official said.

Illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border is a major issue on the US and has posed a problem for U.S. President Joe Biden,  who has vowed to reverse some of the hardline immigration policies of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump. Republicans have criticized Biden's border strategy ahead of the midterm congressional elections in November.

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard called the suffocation of the migrants in the truck the "tragedy in Texas" on Twitter and said consular officials would go to the hospitals where victims had been taken to help "however possible."

Ebrard said two Guatemalans were hospitalized and Guatemala's foreign ministry said on Twitter that consular officials were going to the hospital "to verify if there are two Guatemalan minors there and what condition they are in."

The highway near where the truck was found runs through San Antonio from the Mexican border and is a popular smuggling corridor because of the large volume of truck traffic, Jack Staton, a former senior official with ICE's investigative unit who retired in December told Reuters.

Staton said migrants have regularly been intercepted in the area. It was only a matter of time before a tragedy like this was going to happen again," he said.