At least 39 people have been killed in a fire at an immigration center near the US-Mexico border

A fire at an immigration center on the US-Mexico border has killed at least 39 people, officials said Tuesday.

According to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, authorities believe “the fire was caused by a protest started by some of the migrants after we thought they would be deported.”

Based on initial reports, migrants fearing deportation put small mattresses at the shelter’s door and set them on fire “as a form of protest,” López Obrador told a news conference Tuesday morning. “They never imagined it would cause this misfortune.”

The fire broke out shortly after 9pm on Monday at a migration center run by the National Migration Agency in Ciudad Juarez, the agency said in a statement.

Dozens more were injured, with 29 taken to four hospitals in “critical-critical condition,” the agency said, adding that 68 men from Central America and South America, most from Venezuela, were being held at the facility at the time. Fire.

Francisco Carduno Yanez, commissioner of the National Migration Agency, said the agency was visiting local hospitals where the injured migrants had been taken to “check their health”. A tweet.

Viangli, an immigrant from Venezuela, cries next to an ambulance carrying her husband after a fire in Ciudad Juarez early Tuesday morning.Herica Martinez/AFP – Getty Images

Authorities do not yet know the names and exact nationalities of the dead, López Obrador said.

A Venezuelan immigrant who identified herself only by her first name, Viangli, was desperately searching for her 27-year-old husband. He said he was inside the facility when the fire broke out.

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young lady told Agence France-Presse She knew her husband was among the victims of the fire, but had no idea of ​​his current condition.

“They took him away in an ambulance,” Viangli said in Spanish. “No one will tell you anything. A relative might die, and if they die they won’t tell you.”

Pictures show bodies lined up under sheets of silver as rescue teams, firefighters and police rushed to the scene.

The National Migration Agency did not immediately release the cause of the fire, but said the agency “strongly rejects the actions that led to this tragedy.”

Authorities are investigating and the government’s National Human Rights Commission has been called in to help the migrants, it said.

The facility is located in the state of Chihuahua, near the Santa Fe International Bridge and across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The country’s attorney general has opened an investigation, said Andrea Chavez, the federal deputy in Ciudad Juarez. Report on Facebook. Officials said diplomatic teams were also involved in identifying the dead.

Mexican officials did not immediately respond to requests for further comment.

Ciudad Juarez is a major crossing point for migrants trying to cross the border into the United States.

Its shelters are full of migrants waiting for opportunities to pass through or for the asylum procedure.

In recent years, its national immigration agency has struggled with overcrowding at its facilities as Mexico, under pressure from Washington, has stepped up efforts to stem migration to the U.S. border.

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