20 Somali migrants suffocate in cramped truck

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Twenty illegal Somali migrants suffocated to death as they were being smuggled in a cramped container truck through Tanzania, their bodies dumped on the road, said police.

The bodies of the 17 men and three women were dumped at various areas in the Morogoro region, some 200 km (125 miles) west of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, regional police commander Adolphina Chialo said.

They were found between December 26 and January 1, she added, Reuters reports.

Tanzania serves as a transit route for human trafficking, mostly of Somali and Ethiopian nationals, to South Africa and Europe. Somalia has been engulfed in conflict for the past two decades, with hundreds of thousands fleeing the violence.
“Based on our preliminary investigations, the Somalis died from lack of air and very hot conditions inside the metal, 20-square-foot (1.8 square-metre) container,” Chialo told Reuters by telephone.
“The human traffickers dumped the bodies one by one after they had suffocated inside the container as the truck was heading towards the border between Tanzania and Zambia,” she said.

Police also arrested 14 other illegal Somali migrants who had escaped from the truck and hidden in a forest, Chialo said. They were held because they had entered the country illegally.

However, the smugglers were not found and the vehicle was not identified, the police official said.

It was not immediately clear if any other migrants had made it alive to their destination on the Tanzania-Zambia border, police said.