“The latest report we have puts the number of deceased at 42, with 33 people remaining hospitalised,” Daniel Karam, an official with Mexico’s Social Security administration, told reporters late yesterday.
Most of the children died from smoke inhalation, officials said. Others died when the roof in the crib room collapsed. The center lacked emergency exits and the structure was so weak that part of the roof caved in on an area where many newborn babies were sleeping, reports said.
It was unclear where or how the fire started, although it may have broken out in a nearby warehouse or a tire workshop, the government said.
As flames blocked the center’s doorway, people used cars to punch holes through a wall, stumbling over unconscious children as they tried to save them, witnesses said.
Some 3,000 people gathered in an auditorium in Hermosillo, northern Mexico, on Sunday to pray for the children who perished in Friday's blaze at a converted downtown warehouse, where scores of mostly poor kids were cared for.
The fire raised doubts about safety standards at more than 1,500 centers where Mexico's government provides low-cost care for at least 200,000 children.
President Felipe Calderon, who visited some of the hospitalized children on Saturday night, pledged to launch a thorough investigation into the cause of a tragedy that has stunned Mexico.
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New York Times