PHOENIX (AP) — The number of illegal immigrants who died while crossing the southern U.S. border fell for the second straight year, officials said Wednesday.

Four hundred people perished while entering from Mexico in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, down 12 percent from the 453 deaths in the previous year. A record 494 deaths were reported in the fiscal year that ended in September 2005.

U.S. Border Patrol spokesman Lloyd Easterling said that although the number is still too high, "We feel we have made significant progress this year."

The Border Patrol attributed the lower numbers to tighter border enforcement that led to fewer illegal crossings and to 2,500 new agents in the field, who can spread out more to seek out immigrants crossing in remote and perilous terrain.