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Heat, Dehydration Killed 11 in Iowa

October 17, 2002

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Eleven suspected illegal immigrants whose badly decomposed bodies were found in a rail car died of extreme heat and dehydration, the state medical examiner said Wednesday.

Workers at a grain elevator in Denison, about 60 miles northeast of Omaha, Neb., discovered the victims Monday as they prepared to clean grain cars.

The four women and seven men died from hyperthermia, or extreme overheating, and dehydration, State Medical Examiner Dr. Julia Goodin said. Authorities were working with a forensic anthropologist to identify them.

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, immigrants are killed every year while trying to ride freight trains. The death toll has been as low as two in fiscal year 2002, ended Sept. 30, and as high as 18 in 1987.

In 1987, agents found 18 Mexican immigrants dead and one barely alive in a boxcar left on a rail siding in Sierra Blanca, Texas. The survivor told authorities the man who smuggled them across the border put them aboard in El Paso and locked the door.

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On the Net:

http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/lawenfor/bpatrol/

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