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#Border Patrol warns of river dangers as border drownings spike

“Border Patrol warns of river dangers as border drownings spike”

After a deadly week of drownings in the Rio Grande area, the Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas is warning people to not cross the US-Mexico border through the river.

Five people drowned in the last week in the International Boundary and Water Commission canal that runs parallel to the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, said the US Border Patrol.

The canals are about ten feet wide and carry the controlled released waters from the Rio Grande, which separates the US from Mexico.

“The canals are deeper than they appear and often have a significant water current and undertow this time of the year as water is released from reservoirs upstream for irrigation purposes,” said the Border Patrol in a press release.

The dead are likely immigrants crossing into the US illegally. When bodies float to the surface, authorities on the Mexican and US side determine whose side of the river the body is on and pull the remains out.

If it’s on the US side, the body is turned over to the medical examiner. Often times, the bodies are bloated and disfigured after days in the water and have no identification cards on them. Authorities on the US side work with consulates from foreign countries to try to and identify the body of the drowning victim and transfer the body to the appropriate consulate.

The El Paso Fire Department at the scene of where a body was recovered from a canal.
The El Paso Fire Department at the scene of where a body was recovered from a canal.
@EPTXFire

Additionally, the water rescues or recoveries put Border Patrol agents potentially in danger. Agents are not allowed to go in and perform a water rescue, even if it is to save a drowning person.

They are forbidden to do so, as the water flow is likely to sweep an inexperienced rescuer away. Only members of a specially trained Border Patrol team are authorized to perform a water rescue, or a rescue/recovery team of another agency must be called in.

In El Paso, the El Paso Fire Department assisted Border Patrol with the recovery of a body June 11, the department tweeted.

Border Patrol agents are not permitted to perform a water rescue.
Border Patrol agents are not permitted to perform a water rescue.
@EPTXFire

Anyone who witness a drowning or other suspicious activity on the border is urged to call Border Patrol at 1-800-635-2509.

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