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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Migrants cram into livestock lorries as caravan moves through central Mexico - in pictures

Mexican officials arrange transport with local government saying 6,531 migrants passed through the state of Queretaro

Local Mexican officials helped thousands of Central American migrants find lifts on Sunday on the latest leg of their journey toward the US border.

At a toll plaza to the west of the central Mexico city of Queretaro, where the group spent Saturday night, police prevented migrants from asking for rides on lorries on their own, but officers did help them find other means.

The government of Queretaro said via Twitter that 6,531 migrants had moved through the state between Friday and Saturday. It said that 5,771 of those departed on Sunday morning after staying in three shelters it had prepared, the largest of which was a football stadium in the state capital.

Those numbers appeared even higher than counts made by officials when the group was in Mexico City for several days, raising the possibility that other migrants had caught up to the main caravan.

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Starting out before dawn, the migrants went on to Irapuato, an agricultural city about 100 kilometers to the west in neighboring Guanajuato state, and set up camp around a local family center and small sports complex.

The migrants jumped at any opportunity to catch a lift. They piled onto flatbed lorries, hung from car carrier trailers and even stacked themselves four levels high on a livestock wagon.

Miguel Ortiz of Honduras reclined in the pig trailer with his wife and son. He said they were headed to US for a better life where they could work for more than just putting food on the table.

Maria Isabel Reyes, 39, from Honduras, travelled with her three daughters and a granddaughter.

"I feel happy by the grace of God," she said. "Because we're advancing little by little, but all of us here are moving forward."

The migrants appear to be on a path towards Tijuana across the border from San Diego, which is still some 2,575km away.

The caravan became a campaign issue in US midterm elections and President Donald Trump has ordered the deployment of over 5,000 military troops to the border to fend off the migrants. Mr Trump has insinuated without proof that there are criminals or even terrorists in the group.