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62 migrants die in shipping container

April 05, 2009|Associated Press

QUETTA, PAKISTAN — At least 62 people suffocated in the back of a truck packed with illegal migrants, and dozens were rescued unconscious after Pakistani police acting on a tip opened the vehicle Saturday near the Afghan border.

Rasool Bakhsh, a senior Pakistani police official in the city of Quetta, said the truck carrying a shipping container entered Pakistan from Afghanistan and was headed for Iran. He said most of the victims were Afghans.

More than 100 people were packed inside the 40-foot-long metal container, Bakhsh said. He said survivors were rushed to a hospital, many of them unconscious.

Khalid Masood, another senior officer, said 62 were pronounced dead.

Television video shot shortly after the white container was opened showed dozens of bodies, many of them stripped to the waist, lined up on the roadside next to the truck.

The stench from the container suggested some might have been dead for days, Bakhsh said.

Officials said they were holding the truck's driver as part of their investigation.

Southwestern Pakistan lies on a heavily used route for traffickers who smuggle young men from poverty-afflicted countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, who are hoping to find work and prosperity in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere.

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