By Currents News Staff and Catholic News Service
SAN ANTONIO (CNS) — A rosary was held Monday morning for the 53 migrants who died last week after being found in the back of a tractor-trailer in San Antonio.
The archbishop of San Antonio offered prayers for dozens of people found dead as well as more than a dozen survivors discovered June 27.
“We pray for the souls of the … people who died in such a cruel, inhuman manner this evening,” Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller said in a statement soon after first responders made the gruesome discovery about 6 p.m. local time.
Authorities said the victims were migrants. They said the truck, found on a remote back road in San Antonio, appeared to be part of a smuggling operation.
Rubén Minutti, Mexico consul general in San Antonio, said 27 of the people who died are believed to be of Mexican origin based on documents they were carrying, the Associated Press reported.
Roberto Velasco Álvarez, head of the Mexican government’s North American mission, said on Twitter June 28 that in addition to the Mexican nationals, seven victims were originally from Guatemala and two were Honduran.
Officials believe the tragedy is the deadliest smuggling incident of its kind in U.S. history.
Archbishop García-Siller also asked for prayers for the survivors who were hospitalized, their families and “the first responders who assisted and saved lives and must now carry with them the memories of this scene of carnage.”
In addition, he called on people of the archdiocese “to unite in solidarity, as these brothers and sisters are members of our family.”
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said those found alive were conscious, “hot to the touch,” and suffering from heat stroke and exhaustion.
“There were no signs of water in the vehicle, and no visible working AC unit on that rig,” he said.
Temperatures in the San Antonio area ranged from the high 90s to low 100s, according to the National Weather Service. With a few days left in the month, meteorologists said this June was already the warmest June on record in San Antonio.