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April 4, 2009

62 die in Pakistani shipping container

POLITICS - At least 62 people suffocated to death in a truck shipping container packed with illegal immigrants, and dozens were rescued unconscious today after Pakistani police acting on a tip opened the container near the Afghanistan border. Most of the victims were Afghans.

Rasool Bakhsh, a senior police official in the city of Quetta, said the shipping container the truck was carrying entered Pakistan from Afghanistan and was headed for Iran.

More than 100 people were packed inside the 12-metre-long metal container. Survivors were rushed to the hospital, many of them unconscious.

Television footage shot shortly after the white container was opened showed dozens of bodies, many of them stripped to the waist, lined up on the road next to the truck. The stench from the container suggested some might have been dead for days.

Pakistani officials said they were holding the truck's driver as part of their investigation.

Southwestern Pakistan lies on a well-trodden route for traffickers smuggling young men from poverty-afflicted countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, hoping to find work and prosperity in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

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