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Salvadoran migrants rescued from desert by Border Patrol, volunteers in Mexico

Three men from El Salvador attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument about 125 miles southwest of Tucson and ran out of water in the remote desert on Sunday.

Around 1 p.m., one of the men was able to call Irineo Mujica, a human rights activist who helps manage the migrant shelter in Caborca, Sonora, and said that he was lost in the Arizona desert and dehydrated. Another man had already lost consciousness while the third was "vomiting green fluid and begging for help," wrote Mujica on a Facebook post Sunday. 

He called me and said, "please help me, please help me, I'm dying," said Mujica during an interview with TucsonSentinel.com on Monday afternoon. 

"At first, we didn't know how many were out there," Mujica said. "They said they were in bad shape, and had been in the desert for three or four days," he said. 

The high temperatures in Arizona's southwest desert were just below 100 degrees over the weekend.

Mujica wrote that he called Border Patrol to ask for help, but Border Patrol told the men to call 911. A second border activist, Alex Mensing, called the Pima County Sheriff's Department, who took down the information and told Mensing they would call Border Patrol's search and rescue unit — known as the Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue or BORSTAR. 

Later that day, Border Patrol agents rescued two of the men, identified by Mujica as Elmer Hernandez, and his uncle Josue Naun Elias. The men were in good health after being found in the desrt, said Mujica. 

A spokesman with Border Patrol's Tucson Sector confirmed Mujica's account, saying that the information was relayed to agents at the Ajo station who successfully located both men. 

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The third man attempted to turn around and walk back into Mexico.

"We knew he was dying, so we kept combing the area for him," Mujica said. People from the area, as well as members of the local Mexican police and humanitarian organizations searched a 40-mile square area, while Mujica kept attempting to reach him by phone. 

This included a group of nearly 20 migrants who were at the shelter in Caborca and agreed to search for their missing compadre, said Mujica. 

Finally, after several hours, they found him. 

"It was really a collective effort, we just kept search and searching. We were really persistent," Mujica said. 

The man, later identified only as Alexander, was taken back to the shelter were he received medical care from volunteers using donated equipment. 

This was one or two incidents in the west desert on Sunday, said a BP spokesman. 

Four Mexican other nationals were also lost in the desert and were rescued by Border Patrol agents. 

The agency urged anyone in distress to call 911 or to activate one of 34 beacons spread throughout the Tucson Sector. 

This fiscal year, Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents rescued more than 1,400 people, most in the western Arizona region, the spokesman said. 

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Migrants from Central America, including Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua wait for food at a temporary soup kitchen in Caborca, Sonora in October 2016.