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Migrant raft overturns in Rio Grande River, killing baby boy

By Nicholas Sakelaris
A U.S. Border Patrol boat heads east on the Rio Grande River between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas in January. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
A U.S. Border Patrol boat heads east on the Rio Grande River between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas in January. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

May 3 (UPI) -- A raft carrying nine migrants capsized on the Rio Grande River this week, killing a baby boy and leaving three others missing near Del Rio, Texas.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended a man who illegally entered the country at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, CBP said in a news release. The man said his family was crossing the river from Mexico into Texas when their raft overturned. Several children were on the boat, including a toddler.

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"What we're dealing with now is a senseless tragedy," Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Raul L. Ortiz said. "The men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol have been doing everything in their power to prevent tragedies like this. And yet, callous smugglers continue to imperil the lives of migrants for financial gain."

The hardening of the U.S. border at Eagle Pass, Texas, this year has prompted a surge of Central American migrants braving the swift-flowing river to reach U.S. soil to ask for asylum. About 800 migrants were rescued from the river in February alone.

On Wednesday, the Border Patrol conducted a search for the missing migrants. A woman and a child were later found in the river struggling to stay afloat.

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"Disregarding his own personal safety, an agent jumped into the river and successfully rescued both individuals later identified as the wife and child of the man who made the initial report," the Border Patrol said.

The 6-year-old boy was treated by paramedics and rushed to a hospital. A man and his son were found a short time later on the U.S. bank of the river. They didn't require medical attention and were transported to the Eagle Pass South Station.

Water rescue teams later found the body of the 10-month-old boy several miles down river. A man and a young girl were among those still missing on Friday.

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