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(Reuters) - Thirty horses being taken to slaughter in Canada were burned alive when the tractor-trailer transporting them caught fire on an upstate New York highway, state police said on Tuesday.
The horses were on their way to a rendering plant in Quebec on Monday evening when the incident occurred on Interstate 81 near the town of Lisle, about 55 miles south of Syracuse, police said.
Driver Clarence Phelps, 56, told police he noticed flames coming from the passenger side of the vehicle. He pulled over and tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire which, police said, may have been caused by a fuel tank malfunction.
Police were still investigating, but said on Tuesday no laws regarding the transportation of animals appeared to have been broken.
Each year, roughly 130,000 horses are estimated to be shipped out of the United States to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. Horse slaughter was banned in the U.S. in 2006, but an effort is underway to resume the practice in U.S. meat-packing companies.
Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson