At least 40 people at an immigration detention center in a Mexican city on the U.S. border died in a fire that broke out at the facility overnight, according to a statement issued early Tuesday by the center, known as the National Immigration Institute (INM). Body covers lined up in a row outside the facility, according to a video from the scene in Ciudad Juárez.
The INM’s statement, shared on Twitter, said 29 other people were seriously injured in the blaze and taken to local hospitals.
There was no early word on what started the fire on Monday night at about 10 p.m. local time. Still, Mexican media said that an official investigation had been launched and investigators had arrived.
According to the INM statement, 68 adult men from Central and South America were being kept at the facility. The organization contacted consular representatives from several countries to identify the fire victims.
In a Twitter post, the office of Mexico’s attorney general identified the victims’ nationalities: 1 Colombian,1 Ecuadorean, 12 Salvadorans, 28 Guatemalans, 13 Hondurans, and 12 Venezuelans.
The Guatemalan Institute of Migration, a government-run entity, said in a statement that it would work with the families to have the remains returned.
“Irregular migration poses several risks, which have once again been apparent; once again, we urge the public to study and make the proper decisions before starting on such excursions, which frequently have no return or final destination,” the institute stated.
Many ambulances and fire departments rushed to the overnight fire in Ciudad Juarez.
According to a Customs and Border Protection representative, US border officials are prepared to “expeditiously process and admit” fire victims so they can obtain medical treatment in the US.
CBP plans to issue humanitarian parole to migrant fire victims so they can enter the nation legally to receive emergency medical services, according to a statement.
Ciudad Juárez, which borders El Paso, Texas, is one of the border towns where many undocumented migrants seeking asylum in the United States are still stranded.
According to a recent International Organization for Migration (IOM) report, 7,661 migrants have died or disappeared on their way to the United States since 2014, with 988 dying in accidents or while traveling in inhumane conditions.
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