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A look at the deadliest migrant suffocation incidents

Nearly 50 people, likely migrants, were found dead in a sweltering semitruck in southwest San Antonio Monday night, launching a federal investigation.

SAN ANTONIO — Officials said 46 people have been found dead and 16 others were taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses after a tractor-trailer rig containing suspected migrants was found Monday on a remote back road in southwest San Antonio. 

The deaths were the latest in what has become a global series of mass deaths occurring during human trafficking attempts. Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in U.S. border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.

Below is a look at the deadliest smuggling incidents. If that is what the latest event in San Antonio is confirmed to be, it would become the worst in U.S. history. 

— June 27, 2022: 46 suspected immigrants were found dead in a sweltering trailer on a remote back road in southwestern San Antonio.

— 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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