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Arizona desert can be deadly for crossing migrants, US officials warn

A black water bottle, likely left in the desert by a migrant. According to volunteers for No More Deaths, migrants carry the blakckened bottles to avoid detection in case light reflects off clear bottles. (Photo by Ellen O'Brien/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX — Migrants who plan to illegally cross the border in remote areas of southern Arizona could face potentially deadly heat, U.S. Border Patrol officials warned.

Border Patrol issued its annual safety warnings last week, stressing that the region’s summer heat is deadly for those unprepared for extreme temperatures.

Officials told reporters Thursday in Tucson that it can take up to five days of walking to reach a road, with no water sources available in the meantime.

Tucson Sector Chief Roy Villareal said officials hope that the words of caution will reach migrants in Central America through videos, songs played on radio stations, posters and word-of-mouth accounts before the migrants leave their homes.

The Border Patrol and other agencies typically rescue hundreds of migrants annually in southern Arizona while also recovering the remains of dozens of people.

Geena Jackson with the humanitarian group No More Deaths told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the group found the remains of seven people who died in the desert over the course of three days earlier this month.

“Definitely in our experiences in the field, it is quite clear that there are more people dying in the summer than in the winter,” Jackson said.

But the group is working to inform those crossing the border that emergency services are available to them if they need.

“We try to make sure everyone knows you can call 911,” she said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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