A doomed convoy of 92 migrants, most of them children, died of thirst as they tried to cross the Sahara in search of a better life.
One woman was still clutching the body of her baby after being overcome by the searing heat of the desert when their trucks broke down.
Horrified rescuers found the corpses of 52 youngsters, 33 women and seven men scattered across a wide area after the ill-fated group set off from Niger towards the oasis city of Tamanrasset in Algeria a month ago.
It is believed they may have split up in a desperate bid to find water.
Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, lies on a major migrant route between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.
The UN estimates it is used every year by up to 80,000 impoverished migrants desperate for even the lowest-paid jobs. A handful of survivors made it back to the uranium mining town of Arlit, Niger, where they raised the alarm.
Rescuer Almoustapha Alhacen revealed yesterday that some bodies were discovered just 12 miles from the Algerian border. He described the scene he encountered as "horrible the worst day of my life".
He added: "What was so shocking is that most were so young, mainly teenagers. My guess is that they were schoolchildren being taken to Algeria to find work."