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Bodies of family from India trying to cross into U.S. by foot identified

Investigators have said they believe the deaths are linked to a human smuggling scheme.
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Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel (left to right), son Dharmik Jagdishkumar Patel, wife and mother Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel and daughter Vihangi Jagdishkumar Patel are shown in a handout photo. Officials in Ottawa say they have confirmed the identities of four Indian nationals whose bodies were found frozen in Manitoba near the Canada-U.S. border last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Amritbhai Vakil

Officials in Ottawa say they have confirmed the identities of four Indian nationals whose bodies were found frozen in Manitoba near the Canada-U. S. border last week.

The High Commission of India has released a notice saying the four who died were Jagdish Baldevbhai Patel, a 39-year-old man, Vaishaliben Jagdishkumar Patel, a 37-year-old woman, Vihangi Jagdishkumar Patel, an 11-year-old girl, and Dharmik Jagdishkumar Patel, a three-year-old boy.

Investigators believe the family of four was attempting to cross over the border by foot on Jan. 19 during severe winter weather and died from exposure.

The family’s immediate relatives have been informed, says the release.

“The Consulate General of India in Toronto is in touch with the family of the deceased and is providing all consular support. The High Commission offers its sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victims.”

The release says a special team, led by a senior consular officer from the Consulate General of India, is in Manitoba to help with investigations on the Canadian side and to offer services for the victims.

Manitoba RCMP found the four bodies near Emerson, Man., after U.S. border patrol agents advised them they had picked up a group of Indian nationals on the U.S. side.

One of the individuals was found with a backpack full of items for an infant. He told investigators he was carrying the backpack for a group that got separated from his.

Investigators have said they believe the deaths are linked to a human smuggling scheme.

Steve Shand of Deltona, Fla., faces counts of transporting or attempting to transport illegal aliens. He was released from custody on Monday.

Police in the western state of Gujarat in India have begun delving deeper into the deaths of four Indian migrants.

Ashish Bhatia, director general of police in Gujarat, says investigators are trying to determine whether there was a travel agent in India who helped the group.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: Winter weather, vast expanse make patrolling Canada-U.S. border a daunting challenge





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