Fifty-three migrants have died after traveling in an overheated truck found Monday in San Antonio, Texas, authorities said Wednesday. Four people, including the bus driver, have been arrested as part of the federal investigation.

The toll of the tragedy of migrants found dead in an overheated truck in San Antonio, Texas, has risen to 53 victims, authorities said on Wednesday (June 29). Eleven victims are still hospitalized in the region, said the US immigration services. A previous report, given on Tuesday, reported 51 dead – including 39 men and 12 women.

Of the 53 victims, 27 were from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, detailed Francisco Garduno, head of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration. Three people have yet to be identified.

The gruesome discovery dates back to Monday night, when a San Antonio city worker heard a call for help near a road where he was working, and cracked open the truck’s back door. Of the 64 occupants of the truck, 48 had already died and 16 were transported to surrounding hospitals, where five died, the federal prosecutor in charge of the case said in a statement Wednesday evening.

After a day marked by temperatures close to 40 degrees, they suffered from hyperthermia and acute dehydration.

The driver faces the death penalty

Four people have been arrested as part of a federal investigation. Homero Zamorano, 45, was arrested at the scene, “hidden in the thickets after trying to flee,” said the prosecutor. He was “under the effect of methamphetamine” according to the daily San Antonio Express-News, citing police sources.

He also “tried to pass himself off as one of the survivors,” said Francisco Garduno.

Identified as the driver of the truck, in particular using video surveillance at the border post, he was charged and risks life imprisonment or even the death penalty, adds the press release from the prosecutor.

The latter also announced the arrest on Tuesday of Christian Martinez, 28. Suspected of having exchanged with the driver “on the passage” of the migrants, he was also charged and risks the same sentence.

Two men, linked to an address attached to the license plate of the truck, were also arrested on Tuesday. Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, two Mexican nationals whose tourist visas had expired, are notably being prosecuted for carrying a prohibited weapon.

Cooperation between four committed countries

After this tragedy, Mexico, the United States, Honduras and Guatemala will coordinate their efforts “of cooperation and support” in the investigation carried out by the American authorities, announced Wednesday the Mexican Embassy in the United States in a joint statement.

The four countries also announced the creation of an “immediate action group” to “exchange information and work in a coordinated manner to dismantle human trafficking networks”.

US President Joe Biden called on Tuesday to strengthen the fight against “a criminal industry that brews several billion dollars”.

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