At least 39 killed at migrant detention site on Mexican-US border

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According to Mexican authorities, a fire that broke out on Monday evening at a detention facility for migrants in Ciudad Juarez, a large Mexican city on the US border, has claimed at least 39 lives and seriously injured 29 others.

The fire started at a facility run by Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INM), which is right next to a bridge connecting the city to El Paso, Texas. According to the agency, 68 adult men were housed at the time the fire broke out.

Prior to the official confirmation, local media reported 37 deaths at the facility and two more deaths in hospitals, as two patients died as a result of their injuries.

The victims were described as coming “from Central and South America,” and the INM said it was in contact with the consular authorities of the relevant countries in light of the tragedy. Mexico has promised to conduct a thorough investigation.

According to media reports, the disaster may have started with an escape attempt by a group of Venezuelan detainees who had recently been placed at the facility. The migrants were allegedly detained at the centre after being rounded up in the city over the previous days. It was unclear whether the fire was deliberate or unintentional.

Ciudad Juarez, a city of over 1.5 million people, is a key location in Mexico where would-be asylum seekers and migrants congregate before attempting to cross into the United States via various means.

Earlier this month, US Customs and Border Protection used barricades and riot troops to deter hundreds of people from rushing across a different bridge after hearing that the border between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso was temporarily open.