The bodies of 50 people, believed to be illegal immigrants from Afghanistan who were trying to make their way to Europe, were found in a container in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta on Saturday, police said.
A total of about 110 illegal migrants were packed into the container and most of them fell unconscious due to lack of oxygen. Fifty bodies were pulled out of the container while 60 migrants were sent to hospital in an unconscious state, Deputy Inspector General of Police Wazir Khan Nasir told reporters.
An emergency was declared in major hospitals in Quetta to cope with the situation, officials said. Officials in hospitals said some of the unconscious persons were in a critical condition.
Police said most of the illegal migrants were ethnic Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks from Afghanistan who were trying to illegally cross over to Iran, from where they were to be trafficked to European countries like Greece.
The driver of the container truck fled after parking the vehicle in Hazar Ganji area of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province which borders Iran. Police cordoned off the area and launched a search for the driver.
The container had entered Pakistan through the Chaman land border and was parked in the terminal in Quetta yesterday. Some local residents alerted police after a foul smell began emanating from the container, reports said.