Driver charged as death toll climbs among Texas truck migrants

Chicago (AFP) – A survivor of a horror truck journey in which 10 migrants suffocated to death has told how travelers took turns breathing through a tiny hole in a desperate bid to stay alive, US investigators said on Monday.

As charges were filed against the driver who was detained in Texas near the border with Mexico, one of President Donald Trump’s cabinet secretaries denounced the “brutality” of people-smuggling gangs.

And two children were among a group of more than two dozen people still in hospital, suffering from heat stroke and dehydration, after an ordeal which ended in a parking lot.

The migrants were discovered in the back of the 18-wheel truck in the early hours of Sunday in San Antonio, Texas, a two-hour drive from the US-Mexico border, when one of them approached a Walmart store employee asking for water.

The employee brought water and then called police, who found 38 people crammed in the trailer with a broken refrigeration system, parked in the baking Texas heat.

Eight people were pronounced dead at the scene and two others died later at the hospital.

The sweltering trailer may have held between 70 to 200 people, with some migrants fleeing in six SUVs that had been waiting when the truck stopped in the parking lot, according to witness accounts given to authorities.

– ‘Driver never stopped’ –

The document recounted a harrowing journey, with migrants having trouble breathing and some passing out in the trailer which was being driven by James Mathew Bradley Jr, age 60.

“People began hitting the trailer walls and making noise to get the driver’s attention. The driver never stopped,” according to one of the migrants interviewed, identified only as J.M.M-J.

“People had a hole in the trailer wall to provide some ventilation and they started taking turns breathing from the hole.”

J.M.M-J said he was a Mexican national and part of a group of 29 people being smuggled into the United States. He said that after crossing the border they joined 70 migrants already in…

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