- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 4, 2009

QUETTA, PAKISTAN (AP) - At least 62 people suffocated to death 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 police official in the city of Quetta, said the shipping container the truck was carrying 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 (12-meter-long) metal container, Bakhsh said. He said survivors were rushed to the hospital, many of them unconscious.

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

Television footage shot shortly after the white container was opened showed dozens of bodies, many of them stripped to the waist, lined up on the road 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 well-trodden route for traffickers smuggling young men from poverty-afflicted countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan hoping to find work and prosperity in Europe and elsewhere.


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