Nine migrants drowned and dozens more were rescued after they tried crossing the Rio Grande in Texas after heavy rains and surging river conditions, authorities said Friday.
The migrants were among a large group who were crossing the river Thursday near Eagle Pass, a border city roughly 140 miles west of San Antonio, Rick Pauza, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, said in a statement.
U.S. border agents apprehended 53 people, 37 of whom were rescued, the statement said. On the Mexican side of the border, authorities took 39 people into custody.
During the operation, Mexican authorities found three dead migrants, the statement said. Border agents found six.
Local first responders were continuing to search for more possible victims, the statement said.
Additional details about the incident were not immediately available.
The drownings occurred after heavy rain in the region. River flow reports showed that 6 inches fell in Del Rio, roughly 55 miles upriver from Eagle Pass, earlier this week.
On Thursday, the river topped out at 5 1/2 feet, or nearly 2 feet higher than last week, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
Although crossings at the southern U.S. border have fallen in recent months, they remain at record levels, with 1.8 million apprehensions between October 2021 and July — or more than double the number of apprehensions during the same period between 2018 and 2019, according to CBP.
A Reuters investigation published earlier this year found that the border's death toll rose sharply in 2021, as migrants turned to increasingly more risky methods of entering the United States amid stricter enforcement policies.
According to Reuters, more than 100 migrants have drowned each year trying to enter the United States since 2018.