Manitoba: In a tragic incident, an Indian family of 4, including an infant, has been found apparently frozen to death on the Canadian side of the Canada-US border near Emerson. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have identified the bodies of two adults, a man and a woman, an infant as well as a boy in his teens.
"This is a grave tragedy. An Indian consular team is travelling today from Toronto to Manitoba to coordinate and help. We will work with Canadian authorities to investigate these disturbing events," tweeted India's High Commissioner to Canada Ajay Bisaria.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy who shared the news with media on Thursday described the incident as a "heartbreaking tragedy" and said that the family may have been connected to a human smuggling operations group. The group may have been facilitated to travel but were left out in the middle of a blizzard with temperatures reaching - 35 degrees Celsius RCMP officials said.
The victims are still yet to be properly identified.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota issued a release late Thursday afternoon and said 47-year-old Steve Shand of Florida had been arrested and charged with human smuggling in connection with the incident on Wednesday. Shortly after he was arrested while travelling with two undocumented Indian immigrants, another group of Indians was spotted walking across the border near North Dakota where Shand was taken.
The Indians said they were carrying supplies for a family that had become separated from them, including clothes and supplies for a baby. The bodies have been tentatively identified as that family of four, the release from the US Attorney's Office said.
The Manitoba branch of the RCMP was then notified by the US Customs and Border Protections office of the incident and an immediate search was conducted on both sides of the border, with the bodies being found in a frozen condition shortly afterwards.
The RCMP said it is working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The office of the Minister of Public Safety said in a statement: "We are shocked and saddened by the tragic deaths of four people attempting to cross the Canada-US border, near Emerson, Manitoba. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to their loved ones, and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."