A family of four Indians, including a baby, has died from exposure to cold weather on the Canadian side of the border with the U.S. in an apparent human smuggling operation, according to media reports.
Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Thursday said that the bodies of four people — two adults, a teen and an infant — were found on the Canadian side of the US/Canada border near Emerson on Wednesday.
Dr S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister of India, tweeted that he has asked Indian Ambassadors in the US and Canada to urgently respond to the situation.
U.S. officials say the dead are a family from India. They are thought to have been attempting to cross into the U.S., according to media reports.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy shared the discovery with reporters in a news conference on Thursday.
“What I am about to share is going to be difficult for many people to hear,” she said, calling it “an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy”.
“At this very early stage of the investigation, it appears that they all died due to exposure to the cold weather,” Ms MacLatchy said, adding RCMP believe the four people are connected to the group that was apprehended on the U.S. side of the border.
She said all four were located within 9-12 metres of the border.
Ms. MacLatchy said that the group was “on their own in the middle of a blizzard” and “faced not only the cold weather but endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness”.
Police are referring to them as victims, as there are concerns the group’s attempted border crossing was facilitated in some way, and that they were left out in the extreme cold, Global News reported.
Ms. MacLatchy said work is underway to ID the victims, but at this stage, it appears they all died from exposure to the cold, the report said.
Manitoba RCMP was notified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday morning that a group of people had crossed into the U.S. near Emerson, and that one of the adults was carrying items intended for a baby, but there was no infant with the group.
An immediate search began on both sides of the border, and by that afternoon, the bodies of an adult man, an adult woman, and an infant were found. The body of a boy believed to be in his mid-teens was found shortly afterwards.