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People stuffed into U-Haul hospitalized for heat exhaustion

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TUCSON, Ariz. -

Eight people believed to be immigrants were hospitalized for heat exhaustion after being found in a truck at a gas station along Interstate 10 northwest of Tucson.

The people found Sunday near Picacho Peak were transported to University Medical Center in Tucson. One was reported in critical condition, two in serious condition and five in stable condition.

Authorities say additional people may have fled on foot.

Pinal County Sheriff's Department spokesman Tim Gaffney says the people in the truck may be in the United States illegally.

Gaffney says a person called 911 after seeing people stagger out of the vehicle. There may have been up to 20 people stuffed into the back with no light or ventilation.

Avra Valley Fire District spokesman Patrick Calhoun says initial reports indicated that the group was traveling from Douglas to Phoenix and was in the truck for several hours.

"The pictures indicate there was some water but when you have 14-20 people inside a van on a day that's 118 with no ventilation, that van becomes an oven," said PCSO Chief Deputy Steve Henry.

"The fact that it takes 2 and a half hours to drive from Douglas to Picacho, can you imagine being 2 and a half hours in an oven? We are fortunate that not more people are injured or dead."

The immigrants reported paying $5,000 to be smuggled to Phoenix. The smugglers were arrested.

One of them may not survive.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press modified.

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