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9-year-old girl drowns while trying to cross Rio Grande

The child's death comes as the Biden administration contends with a surge of migrants attempting to cross the Mexican border into the U.S.
Image: Border in Roma, Texas
A Border Patrol agent keeps watch along the Rio Grande River looking towards Ciudad Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas, Mexico on July 23, 2014 in Roma, Texas.Jay Janner / AP

A 9-year-old girl from Mexico apparently drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande into the United States, federal officials reported Friday.

The unidentified child was found March 20 stranded and unconscious on an island on the Mexican side of the river, along with her mother and 3-year-old brother, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Thursday. They too were found unresponsive.

Alerted by bystanders on the Mexican shore, U.S. Border Patrol agents in a marine unit “found the individuals and immediately began administering first aid while transporting the migrants to shore,” the CBP statement said.

The mother and young boy regained consciousness, the statement said.

“However, despite efforts by the Border Patrol Agents and Eagle Pass Emergency Medical Services, the 9-year-old daughter did not regain consciousness and was later pronounced deceased,” CBP spokesman Dennis Smith told NBC News in an email.

The rescued mother was Guatemalan, but her children were both Mexican nationals, Smith said.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this small child,” said Del Rio Sector Chief Patrol Agent Austin L. Skero II in the statement. “During these hard times our agents remain resilient, and I am extremely proud of their efforts to preserve human life.”

The CBP statement did not list a cause of death, but Lt. Jason Mares of the Eagle Pass Fire Department in Texas told NBC News, “It was considered a drowning.”

The tragic death came as President Joe Biden’s administration was contending with a surge of migrants attempting to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. and a growing humanitarian crisis.

Since Oct. 1, Border Patrol agents in and around the city of Eagle Pass have “rescued over 500 migrants attempting to illegally enter the country,” the CBP said in the statement.