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Migrant drowns in canal while attempting to cross US-Mexico border during rainstorm


Bad weather conditions stalled rescue efforts

John Moore/Getty Images

U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to El Centro Sector said they recovered the body of a man who was suspected of attempting to illegally enter the U.S. on Wednesday around 9 p.m. at the All-American Canal near Calexico, California.

What happened?

Border Patrol agents spotted three men illegally entering the U.S. about two miles west of the Gran Plaza Outlets near Calexico, according to an announcement from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Two of the men were immediately apprehended after they swam across the canal. A third man with the group was struggling to stay afloat and agents were unable to reach him before he drowned.

Members of the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue quickly arrived on scene and attempted to retrieve the his body, but the operation was called off due to heavy rain and low visibility.

Around 9 a.m. Thursday, BORSTAR divers continued their search when conditions were not as hazardous. At about 10:00 a.m., divers found the man's body submerged in the water, according to a statement by the agency. He was located about 150 yards from where he first entered the water on the night before.

"This incident tragically illustrates how human smuggling organizations place migrants in perilous situations," chief patrol agent Gloria Chavez said in a statement. "This man put his trust in human smugglers and it cost him his life."

Where was he from?

The man's body was turned over to the Imperial County Coroner's Office. His identity and nationality were not immediately determined. The two men who were traveling with the man who died were both nationals of El Salvador.

It was not clear if the men were with the migrant caravan camping out along the border in California, Fox News reported.

In recent months, thousands of migrants Central America have traveled through Mexico and toward the border in hopes of either entering the U.S. illegally or applying for asylum.

In November, a 26-year-old migrant woman from Guatemla was impaled on a metal fence while attempting to enter the U.S. illegally near the San Ysidro Port of Entry, a crossing between San Diego and Tijuana. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents had said the woman, who was with two toddlers, was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Her injuries were not considered life-threatening.

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