Dozens of people have been killed and injured after a fire broke out in an immigration detention facility in northern Mexico near the United States border.
The blaze – one of the deadliest incidents at an immigration lockup in the country’s history – occurred late Monday at a facility in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
Images from the scene showed ambulances, firefighters and vans from the morgue around the smoke-covered facility with rows of bodies lying under shimmery silver sheets.
At least 39 people died in the fire and 29 injured people were taken to hospitals, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute said in a statement. The facility was holding 68 adult men from Central and South America, it said.
Mexico’s attorney general’s office launched an inquiry and has investigators at the scene, according to media reports.
“I was here since one in the afternoon waiting for the father of my children, and when 10pm rolled around smoke started coming out from everywhere,” 31-year-old Viangly Infante, a Venezuelan national, told the Reuters news agency.
Her husband was in a holding cell inside the facility when the fire started and survived by dousing himself in water and pressing against a door, said Infante, adding that she saw many dead bodies lying on the ground.
Guatemala said on Tuesday that 28 of its nationals are believed to have died in the incident.