178 Central American migrants rescued from truck in Mexico: Officials

COATZACOALCOS, MEXICO (AFP) - Scores of would-be migrants being smuggled from Central America to the United States were rescued Saturday (July 29) from an abandoned truck, officials in the Mexican state of Veracruz said.

Authorities said 178 people were found in the tractor-trailer truck in the Mexican town of Tantima.

Their rescue comes less than a week after the horrific suffocation deaths of 10 migrants who were trapped in an 18 wheel truck discovered last Sunday in a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas.

Authorities said as many as 200 migrants may have been crammed into the trailer found in Texas, many of whom had to be hospitalised. Some survivors fled the parking lot in waiting cars, according to witness accounts.  

Officials said occupants of the truck on Saturday narrowly averted tragedy realised at some point that they had been abandoned by the traffickers, and that a few managed to escape the vehicle and enlist the aid of local inhabitants of the town who gave them food and water.  

The Central Americans were then transported by police to a migration centre, where they were given medical assistance before authorities began the process of returning them to their countries of origin.  

A Mexican military source told AFP that most of the Central Americans were adults, although there were also a handful of minors found in the vehicle.  

Officials in the United States say fewer migrants are making the perilous overland journey to America from Central American and Mexico in recent months, in large part because of harsh, anti-immigrant rhetoric from US President Donald Trump, who came to power in January.  

Migrants from Central America and Mexico will to make the dangerous trip risk being victimised by thieves, criminal gangs and unscrupulous traffickers who sometimes take their money and abandon them in desperate conditions on either side of the US border.