07/27/2006

Border Patrol rescues 34 from flooded drainage tunnel

The Associated Press

NOGALES, Ariz.- Nearly three dozen illegal immigrants spotted clinging to the sides of a flooded drainage tunnel were rescued Thursday morning by U.S. Border Patrol agents and police, but at least two others are believed to have been swept away, officials said.

A search was on Thursday for two to four people believed to have washed into the Santa Cruz River on the American side of the border, said Border Patrol spokesman Jesus "Chuy" Rodriguez.

The immigrants were trying to enter the U.S. through the Grand Tunnel, which runs from Nogales, Mexico, into Nogales, Ariz., when they were discovered at 5:30 a.m., Rodriguez said.

The water flow at that point is north into the U.S., and the area was being hit by a rainstorm.

Heavy summer rain frequently fills flood channels and dry washes in Arizona and northern Mexico, and rain was falling across much of the area Thursday. The drainage tunnel empties into the Santa Cruz River, which runs north.

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