Cell phone saves immigrants lost in desert
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Cell phone saves immigrants lost in desert

Reuters | July 15, 2005

MEXICO CITY - A group of stranded illegal immigrants facing death in the parched Arizona desert saved themselves by using a cell phone they found to call rescue services, the U.S. Border Patrol said Thursday.

The group got lost in the desert near Arivaca, south of Tucson, Arizona, Wednesday after their guide abandoned them during a four-day trek across the border from Mexico.

Lost and low on water, they used a cell phone they found in their guide's bag to dial 911. Rescuers dispatched helicopters and located the group in the desert shortly after sunset.

"Their quick thinking in using the phone to call for help and lighting signal fires saved their lives," the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol said in a news release.

Since the beginning of July, 21 illegal immigrants have died of heat exhaustion while crossing through the desert to Arizona, where summer temperatures soar to highs of around 120 F (49 C).

The sun-baked state is the principal route used by mostly Mexican immigrants seeking a new life in the United States. Last year, more than half a million were arrested there.

The Border Patrol said Thursday there was a strong possibility that a heatwave in Arizona could cause a record number of immigrant deaths.


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