Mexico orders probe on fire, 38 children killed

The death toll from a fire at a daycare center in northern Mexico rose to 38 children with 23 more hospitalized, many with life-threatening burns.

Mexico orders probe on fire, 38 children killed

The death toll from a fire at a daycare center in northern Mexico rose to 38 children with 23 more hospitalized, many with life-threatening burns, Mexican authorities said on Saturday.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered an investigation into Friday's fire at the ABC daycare center in the northern city of Hermosillo to find who is to blame and later visited hospitals where survivors were being treated.

Three additional children have died and more seriously burnt victims remained in the hospital, Health Minister Raymundo Lopez told reporters late Saturday.

"Unfortunately, fifteen of them are in danger of losing their lives over the next few hours," Lopez said.

As flames blocked the center's doorway, employees and neighbors used cars to punch holes through a wall and stumbled over unconscious infants and toddlers as they tried to rescue them, witnesses said.

Smoke inhalation killed many children before rescuers could reach them, with the victims ranging in age from a few months old to about 3 years old, authorities 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.

"According to what our people saw, there was an explosion followed immediately by flames," said Daniel Karam, head of the Mexican agency responsible for health care and social security.

Crying family and friends buried three children in small gray coffins and another 10 funerals were set to be held simultaneously on Sunday.

The city of about 700,000 people is located 170 miles (270 km) south of the border with the U.S. state of Arizona.

Calderon said he was rushing medical assistance to overwhelmed medical staff in Hermosillo, including air ambulances and specialists in reconstructive surgery.

"I have ordered the attorney general, along with local authorities ... to investigate as soon as possible to find out exactly what happened and identify whoever may be responsible," Calderon said earlier on Saturday in Quintana Roo state.

More than 140 children were in the ABC daycare center when the fire broke out, Karam told reporters. Karam said the center had passed its last government inspection in May.

Six adults also were hospitalized in less serious condition after the fire, authorities said.

A 3-year-old girl was flown to the Shriners children's hospital in Sacramento, California, which specializes in burns, and another was due to be sent, the hospital said.

"Our burn team here has been working all night with the medical professionals in Mexico to triage these patients, on the phone," said Shriners spokeswoman Catherine Curran.

Some of the children were too unstable to transport to other hospitals, Lopez said.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Haziran 2009, 13:10
YORUM EKLE