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1 Child Dead, 3 People Missing After Migrant Raft Overturns In Rio Grande

U.S. border authorities have recovered the body of a 10-month-old child and continue searching for two other children and an adult whose raft overturned in the Rio Grande as they were attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border Wednesday night near Del Rio, Texas, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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

Border agents on patrol encountered a 27-year-old Honduran male who reported that he was one of nine people on a rubber raft that had overturned in what was described as cold and fast-flowing waters. The man said that his wife, two sons who were 10 months old and 6 years old, and a 7-year-old nephew were swept away. Two other families were also on the raft, a CBP official told NPR.

A border agent later found the wife and 6-year-old son of the man who made the initial report. The boy was rushed to a local hospital.

An adult male and two children – the 7-year-old boy and a girl whose age was not immediately known – have not been located, the official said.

Government data show that 103,492 people were apprehended at the southwest border in March, the highest monthly level in more than a decade. The spring runoff has made crossing the Rio Grande a potentially treacherous journey.

The reports of the missing migrants come a day after a 16-year-old migrant boy from Guatemala died in U.S. custody in Texas on Tuesday. He is the third migrant minor to die since early December after being detained.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.