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Texas authorities investigate truck packed with immigrants

ANNA, Texas (CNN) -- At least two illegal Mexican immigrants died and 14 others suffered heat-related illnesses after they were packed into the back of an 18-wheel tractor-trailer, authorities said.

Police and federal officials estimated 45 immigrants were in the truck, which was stopped by troopers Saturday afternoon in Anna, Texas. A search is under way for the remaining immigrants, many of whom fled when the truck's doors were opened at a truck stop near Dallas.

"The truck driver who stopped heard some banging and knocking and he went and opened the doors to this trailer," said Lt. Doug Dickerson of the Dallas Fire Department. "When he did, people were streaming out of there."

The Fire Department was called, but by the time units responded four minutes later, the truck was gone, Dickerson said.

"The truck was gone and people were laying out everywhere," he said. "There were people milling around, several laying around."

Other immigrants fled into nearby neighborhoods and sought help by knocking on the doors of homes, he said.

A total of 10 ambulances responded and took the 14 immigrants to the hospitals. Others refused treatment or did not require it, said Dickerson.

The immigrants were both men and women, all of whom spoke only Spanish, Dickerson said. They were all adults, the youngest appeared to be in their late teens.

Texas state troopers later found the tractor-trailer at a truck stop in Anna, more than an hour away from Dallas. The troopers opened the truck's doors and found two men, both in their early 20s, dead. One other was taken to the hospital and several others stayed on the scene, said Capt. David Hiserote of the Collin County Sheriff's Department.

The truck driver and a passenger were taken into custody, he said. Their identities were not released.

The driver was driving a truck owned by Kentucky-based Paschall Truck Lines, Dallas Police Sgt. Steve Winters said. A woman who answered the phone at the company said she had no comment.

Winters said the truck began driving from Santa Fe, N.M. Friday night, and the immigrants became sick along the way.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service is also investigating the case.




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