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    39 People Killed in Mexico Fire as Migrants Were Locked Behind Bars: A Tragic Account

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    On March 27, 2023, a fire broke out at a detention center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, killing 39 male migrants, most of whom were from Guatemala and other Central American countries. The women migrants at the center were successfully evacuated. An investigation is underway to determine what happened at the center, which employed staff from the government’s National Migration Institute (INM) as well as from a private contractor. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador vowed to bring those responsible to justice and stated that there will be no attempt to hide the facts or cover for anyone.

    A short video circulating on social media appears to show security footage from inside the center during the blaze. The video shows men kicking on the bars of a locked door as their cell filled with smoke, while three uniformed people walked past without trying to open the door. Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez later confirmed the video’s veracity to Mexican media. A man who survived the fire, a paramedic, and a security official in the government of Chihuahua state all said the cell door where the men were being held remained locked as the fire and smoke spread. It was not until rescuers arrived that the door was opened, and it remains unclear how much time passed between the fire being set and the door being opened.

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    Authorities believe the fire was started by migrants setting alight mattresses in an act of protest when they discovered they would be deported. The fire began around 9:30 p.m., and Rescue Team Ciudad Juarez, a private paramedic service, reached the building at 10:05 p.m. The victims had all been extracted from the building by 11:37 p.m. Family members of injured migrants anxiously waited outside a hospital in Ciudad Juarez.

    Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday evening that those “directly responsible” had been handed over to the attorney general’s office. He provided no further details. The fire is one of the deadliest migrant tragedies in years and occurred as the U.S. and Mexico are battling to cope with record levels of border crossings at their shared frontier.

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    Rajesh M
    Rajesh M
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