(NewsNation) — Canadian authorities recovered the bodies of eight migrants, including two children, who died trying to cross into the U.S. illegally from Canada on Thursday.
The bodies are believed to be from two families, one of Romanian descent and the other of Indian descent, according to officials.
One of the bodies found was of a child under 3 years old, while the other child found was an infant. According to local police, both children were Canadian citizens.
A police helicopter spotted the bodies in the St. Lawrence River in eastern Canada.
The territory is known for being a transit point for the trafficking of humans and contraband because of its location. In February, police in Akwesasne reported an increase in human smuggling into the Mohawk territory.
“Our community has been exploited by this,” said Grand Chief Abram Benedict of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. “This is not the first time that tragedy has happened in our community like this. We’ve had other losses.”
“This is a heartbreaking situation,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “We need to understand properly what happened, how it happened and do whatever we can to minimize the chances of this ever happening again.”
U.S. Border Patrol apprehended 367 people attempting to cross illegally into the U.S. from Canada in January alone, more than the number apprehended in the past 12 years combined.
This comes as U.S. President Joe Biden and Trudeau recently signed a new U.S.-Canada border agreement meant to halt the flow of asylum seekers at unofficial border crossings. The deal is part of efforts to limit an influx of migrants at Roxham Road, an unofficial crossing between New York state and Quebec province.
Last year, a record 40,000 migrants crossed into the U.S. from Canada, the vast majority entering via Roxham Road.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.