At least 30 migrants have died in a fire at a migrant detention center in northern Mexico near the US border, Mexican officials said.
Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) said 39 foreign migrants were killed in a fire that broke out before 10 pm local time on Monday at a detention center in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.
Images from the scene showed rows of bodies lying under shimmering silver sheets outside the Ciudad Juarez facility across from El Paso, Texas. Ambulances, firefighters and vans from the morgue were also seen.
According to INM, 68 men from Latin America were staying at the facility. Of these, he added that 29 migrants were injured in the fire, and for treatment he was transferred to four local hospitals in delicate to critical condition.
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The agency said a complaint was filed with the appropriate authorities to initiate an investigation into the incident. Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) has been given a hearing to intervene in legal proceedings and protect foreign immigrants.
INM said it would support legal investigations “to uncover these unfortunate facts.”
“The National Institute for Immigration strongly rejects the conduct that led to this tragedy,” the agency said, though it did not specify which “conduct” it was referring to.
Ciudad Juarez is a major crossroads for immigrants entering the United States. Its shelters are filled with immigrants awaiting an opportunity to cross the border or have applied for asylum in the United States and are awaiting the process.
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Local newspaper Diario de Juárez reported that the fire broke out in the men’s section of the camp and that all the victims were men.
According to media reports, the cause of the fire remains unknown and is being investigated by Mexico’s attorney general’s office.
The tragedy near the US border comes as double border hearings are scheduled at the Capitol on Tuesday.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorcas is scheduled to testify at 10 a.m. at a surveillance hearing conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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At the same time, the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigation, and Accountability will hold a hearing titled “Biden’s Growing Border Crisis: Death, Drugs, and Disability on the Northern Border.”
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House members hear from National Border Security Council Chairman Brandon Judd and others who will speak about illegal immigration across the U.S.-Canada border, the longest border between the two countries in the world. It’s a schedule.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.