US (AP) – Officials on both sides of the United States (US)-Mexico border searched for more victims on Saturday after at least nine migrants died while trying to cross the rain-swollen Rio Grande, a dangerous border-crossing attempt in an area where the river level had risen by more than two feet in a single day.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Mexican officials discovered the victims near Eagle Pass, Texas, on Thursday, following days of heavy rains. US officials recovered six bodies, while Mexican teams recovered three, according to a CBP statement. It is one of the deadliest drownings on the US-Mexico border in recent history.
The river, which was a little more than three feet deep at the start of the week, reached more than five feet on Thursday, and the water was flowing five times faster than usual, according to the National Weather Service.
The CBP said US crews rescued 37 others from the river and detained 16 more, while Mexican officials took 39 migrants into custody.
CBP did not say what country or countries the migrants were from and did not provide any additional information on rescue and search operations. Local agencies in Texas that were involved have not responded to requests for information.
Among the bodies recovered from the river by Mexican authorities was a man and a pregnant woman, although their nationalities were unknown, said Francisco Contreras, a member of Civil Protection in the Mexican border state of Coahuila. No details were released about the third body found.
The Border Patrol’s Del Rio sector, which includes Eagle Pass, is fast becoming the busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Agents stopped migrants nearly 50,000 times in the sector in July, with Rio Grande Valley a distant second at about 35,000. Eagle Pass is about 225 kilometres southwest of San Antonio.