An average of five to six undocumented immigrants are turning up dead in the desert every week amid even-hotter-than-normal summer temperatures in Arizona, authorities and human rights groups say.
According to figures compiled by the U.S. Border Patrol, June was a tragic month for immigrants who decided to illegally enter the United States via the Arizona desert, with more than 27 deaths, the majority "caused by the high temperatures and dehydration."
"This year what we've seen with the Border Patrol are many more 911 calls from immigrants who've gotten lost in the desert. This has helped us find these people before they died," Andres Adame, the spokesman for the Border Patrol in Arizona, told Efe.
"This year we already have 494 rescues, compared to 414 last year," but the Pima County medical examiner's office is keeping the bodies of more than 100 unidentified immigrants in cold storage.
Meanwhile, Arizona's Coalicion de Derechos Humanos (Human Rights Coalition), which works with the ME's office, said that it is receiving an average of three reports of missing migrants each day.
"Today we have five cases where I have to return the calls and I don't know how many more have come in in the last few minutes. Yesterday, I received three. I'm a little backed up with four or five cases, if I check my mail perhaps there are two more," the coalition's Kat Rodriguez told Efe.
"We had a case two weeks ago of a Colombian, the family called us from New Jersey and gave us information about where he had last been seen. We're in contact with the Border Patrol rescue team; in this case the information was very precise and the body could be located," Rodriguez said.
"It had to do with a 51-year-old odontologist, the mother and daughter came to look for him and regrettably they had to go to the morgue to identify him. It was a very sad situation," she said. EFE