Canadian police have found the bodies of four people, including an infant, in a snowy field near the US border.
The group of four died from exposure due to the frigid cold, which dropped to -35C (-31F) with wind chill.
The bodies of a man, a woman, a teenage boy and an infant were found near Emerson, Manitoba, on Wednesday, January 19.
US officials say the dead are believed to be from India. They are thought to have been attempting to cross into the US.
Baby, three others freeze to death while attempting to cross from Canada into US
Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Assistant Commissioner, Jane MacLatchy shared the discovery with reporters in a news conference on Thursday, January 20.
“What I am about to share is going to be difficult for many people to hear,” she said, calling it “an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy”.
Around 09:30 local time (15:30 GMT) on Wednesday, Canadian police were alerted that a US Customs and Border Patrol team had arrested a group that had crossed from the area, which is a known illicit border crossing site.
“A US official told the Canadian team that one man was discovered with items for an infant, but that no child was found with him.”
“A search was launched on both sides of the US-Canada border, and the group was discovered around 13:30 about nine to 12 metres from the US border. Crews using snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles continued to search the deep snow until late Wednesday evening.”
Ms MacLatchy said that the group was “on their own in the middle of a blizzard” and “faced not only the cold weather but endless fields, large snowdrifts and complete darkness”.
Later on Thursday, US federal officials in Minnesota announced human smuggling charges against 47-year-old Florida resident Steve Shand.
Mr Shand was found driving a 15-person van in a rural area along the border with cases of food and water in his boot. Two passengers with him were found to be undocumented migrants from India, US officials say.
As they were being transported to a border patrol station, the US agents encountered a group of five Indian citizens who said they had been walking for 11 hours and had been expecting to be picked up by someone.
One of them was carrying a backpack containing children’s clothes, toys and medication. He said he was carrying it for a family of four, but they “had become separated in the night”.
Based on the description, the bodies found in Canada have been tentatively identified as the family from India, the US statement says.
The RCMP’s Ms MacLatchy urged “anyone who’s thinking of crossing the border in Manitoba, either heading south or north: just don’t do it”.
“Do not listen to anyone who tells you they can get you to your destination safely. They cannot. Even with proper clothing it is not a journey that is possible.”
The police officials say it is rare to see people crossing from Canada southbound into the US. Most immigrants will rather stay in Canada than the US