West News Wire: Mexican authorities have verified that at least 39 people have died and 29 have suffered serious injuries as a result of a fire that broke out on Monday night at a detention center for migrants in Ciudad Juarez, a sizable Mexican city near the US border.
The fire started at a location managed by the National Migration Institute (INM) of Mexico, which is close to a bridge that links the city to El Paso, Texas. According to the agency, 68 adult males were staying at the location when the fire started.
Prior to the official confirmation, local media claimed that there had been 37 deaths at the facility and two more deaths as a result of patient injuries in hospitals.
The INM described the victims as coming “from Central and South America” and said it was in touch with the consular authorities of the relevant nations in light of the tragedy. Mexico will conduct a thorough investigation, it pledged.
The disaster may have started during an escape attempt by a group of Venezuelan detainees recently placed at the facility, according to media reports. The migrants were allegedly rounded up in the city over the previous days and detained at the center. It was not immediately clear if the blaze was intentional or accidental.
Ciudad Juarez, a city with over 1.5 million residents, is one of the key locations in Mexico where would-be asylum seekers and migrants flock to before attempting to cross into the US by various means.
Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection used barricades and troops in riot gear to stop hundreds of people who rushed across a different bridge based on a rumor that the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso was temporarily open.