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Family member's frantic phone calls give terrifying account of Mexico ambush

Funerals have began for the nine Americans — three mothers and six children — who were killed in Mexico in what police say was an ambush by a drug cartel.
/ Source: TODAY

Audio from frantic calls between family members during a deadly ambush in Mexico has been released as funeral services begin for the nine Americans killed in Monday's attack.

Kendra Lee Miller, a relative to many of the victims, can be heard on the messaging app WhatsApp relaying the devastating details after six children and their mothers were killed when their convoy of three vehicles was attacked by what Mexican authorities say were drug cartel members.

"Andre just came and said my mom's Suburban is blown up,'' she said on the recording in reference to her brother, who had gone out to the scene.

Among those killed were Rhonita Miller, 30, and her 8-month-old twins, Titus and Tiana, as well as two of her older children, Howard Miller, 12, and Krystal Miller, 10.

Rhonita and her children burned in their vehicle after cartel members sprayed it with so many bullets that the gas tank exploded, police said.

"Nita and the four kids are gone, they've been burned inside the vehicle,'' Kendra said on WhatsApp.

Also killed were Christina Langford Johnson, 29; Dawna Langford, 43; Trevor Langford, 11; and Rogan Langford, 2.

Five other children suffered bullet wounds and survived. Kylie Langford, 14, was shot in the foot; Cody Langford, 8, was shot in the jaw; Xander Langford, 4, was shot in the back; Mckenzie Langford, 9, had a bullet graze her arm; and 8-month-old Brixon Langford was shot in the chest.

Devin Langford, 13, was not injured but walked 14 miles to get help after hiding his bleeding siblings in the bushes.

"Keep praying, they still have five kids hiding in the bushes,'' Kendra said on WhatsApp. "Devin walked home. Only Devin came back."

Christina Langford Johnson's 7-month-old daughter, Faith, somehow survived a volley of gunfire after her mother put her on the floor of her SUV in her carseat, Kendra wrote in a detailed Facebook post on Tuesday morning about the attack.

Three of the children are still under care of doctors in Tucson, Arizona, and two others have been treated and released, relatives told NBC News' Miguel Almaguer on Friday.

The children who were released were able to attend the funerals for their mothers.

Dawna Langford was buried alongside her young sons. Her daughter Kylie attended the funeral along with her sister, Crystal.

All nine of those killed were American citizens living in La Mora, an agricultural community descended from Mormon settlers that is about 70 miles south of the Arizona border. Many residents have dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico.

The funerals, which will continue in Mexico on Saturday, are being held under a heavy military presence because cartels control the local roads, police said.

Mexican police assert that the families were mistaken for a rival cartel in the attack. However, relatives disputed that account, telling Almaguer they want the government "to be honest and come clean" about what happened.

Correction: A previous version of this story misquoted Kendra Lee Miller on a WhatApp recording saying, "Officers just came and said my mom's Suburban is blown up." She said, "Andre just came and said my mom's Suburban is blown up."