EIGHT people have been found dead in a semi-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in Texas’ stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case. The driver was arrested.
Police did not say where the vehicle came from, but said the driver has been arrested and would be charged.
They are investigating a possible people-smuggling offence.
The US immigration department is trying to establish the victims’ status.
San Antonio is a few hours’ drive from the border with Mexico.
The truck had no working air conditioning system despite blistering temperatures that topped 37C, authorities said. All the victims were taken to several hospitals.
“They were very hot to the touch. So these people were in this trailer without any signs of any type of water,” said San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood, briefing journalists at the scene in video authorities posted on social media. “It was a mass casualty situation for us.”
Local fire chief Charles Hood said they had arrived at the scene just after midnight to find eight people dead in the back of the trailer truck, which had no functioning air conditioning and no signs of water inside.
The survivors had heart rates of over 130 beats per minute and were very hot to touch. In addition to the 20 people in a critical condition, eight others were taken to hospital in a less severe state.