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Bodies of deceased migrants in Texas trailer arrive in Mexico

SAN MARCOS ATEXQUILAPAN, Mexico (AP) — After days of preparation and donations to cover funeral expenses, this mountain community in eastern Mexico mourned the return of three teenagers, all cousins, lost among the 53 migrants who died on Thursday. inside a tractor-trailer in San Antonio, Texas.

The previous 24 hours have been a flurry of activity as residents of San Marcos Atexquilapan volunteered to help the Olivares family receive the bodies of brothers Jaír and Yovani Valencia Olivares, ages 19 and 16, as well as their cousin, Misael, 16. Olivares.

The women cleaned banana leaves to make tamales, the men carried chairs from house to house, while the boys’ friends stuck pictures of the three on a wall.

Similar scenes of solemn preparation unfolded across Mexico as the bodies of 16 of those lost in the tragedy were brought back on two military flights on Wednesday and then sent to their hometowns and at least one more flight was scheduled. Mexico’s foreign ministry said it would bring back 25 of the 26 Mexican victims in accordance with their families’ wishes.

In the southern state of Oaxaca, the body of Javier Flores López arrived Thursday at the village of Cerro Verde, where his mother, siblings, wife and children held a wake in the small chapel.

Flores López lived in Ohio, where he worked in construction, but had returned to Mexico to visit his wife and children before returning to the United States last month.

The repatriation of victims was to continue in the coming days in Guatemala and Honduras, which also lost 21 and 6 migrants respectively.

Ten of the 53 fatal victims were teenagers, including the Olivares. In the darkness, men carried the coffins and arranged them side by side in front of a large crucifix sheltered by tarpaulins stretched above the mourners.

The youngsters were to be buried on Friday.

People stood along the highway Wednesday night holding candles and awaiting the arrival of the three hearses carrying the coffins. A group of friends of the boys played music as the crowd slowly accompanied the hearses.

Hundreds of people from the area have flocked to the families’ homes, which are seated in a row. The youngsters all played in a local football team and were well known.

People threw white flower petals and wept as the coffins were placed in the family home.

“I can’t accept it,” whispered Yolanda Valencia, mother of Jaír and Yovani. You have to “work hard” in life, “try to fight to make your dreams come true”.

His sons wanted to build a house and open a shoe store in this town of about 1,500 people known for its shoemaking. “They went with a lot of goals that weren’t met,” she said.

Gildardo Fernández, said: “We were close friends, we played in a football team, well, the truth was that they were sincerely very humble people, very hard workers and fun to be around.”

“Sometimes you have to leave, and in a way I admire that because it’s not easy for someone to leave their family, their community to look for a better life,” Fernández said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned.”

The investigation continues into the smuggling ring that ultimately abandoned the migrant caravan on the outskirts of San Antonio on a day when temperatures approached 100 degrees. US authorities arrested four people, including the truck driver.

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