According to a statement released early on Tuesday by the facility known as the National Immigration Institute, at least 40 detainees at an immigration detention center in a Mexican city near the U.S. border perished in a fire that started at the facility overnight (INM).
Footage from the scene in Ciudad Juárez showed bodies lined up in a row outside the institution, each one draped in a blanket.
According to a tweet from the INM, 29 additional individuals were critically hurt in the blaze and transferred to nearby 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 nationalities of the victims: 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 carries with it a series of risks, which have once again become evident; once again we call on the population to analyze and make the right decisions before embarking on such journeys, which often have no return or final destination,” the institute said.
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Several ambulances and fire departments reacted to the Ciudad Juarez fire that broke out overnight.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson tells CBS News that U.S. border officials are prepared to “quickly process and admit” victims of the fire so they can receive medical treatment in the U.S.
According to a statement from the agency, CBP intends to give parole to immigrant victims of the fire on a humanitarian basis so they can enter the nation legally and obtain emergency medical care.
One of the border towns where many undocumented migrants seeking asylum in the United States are stuck in Ciudad Juárez, which is close to El Paso, Texas.
According to a recent report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 988 migrants have died in accidents or while traveling in appalling conditions since 2014, while 7,661 migrants have died or vanished en route to the United States.
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