Death toll in Mexico migrant detention center fire up to 40

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The death toll in a fire last week at a migrant detention center in a Mexican border city has risen to 40, after one of the injured men died while being flown to a specialized hospital in Mexico City.

The federal public safety department confirmed the death Monday.

Mexico had previously turned down a U.S. offer to help provide medial treatment to the injured, most of whom suffered smoke inhalation, saying they were too ill to be moved. But the department said a medical decision was made to fly some of the injured to a specialized respiratory hospital in the capital.

The fire in Ciudad Juarez injured 27 men, 23 of whom remain hospitalized.

Six people have been charged with homicide in the fire, including an inmate accused of igniting it and officials who failed to get victims to safety. The fire allegedly started when a small group of migrants protested against a feared deportation, and at least one set mattresses on fire.

That migrant, along with three officials from the National Immigration Institute and two private security guards at the detention center, face charges of homicide and causing injuries. The federal prosecutor’s office says it also is investigating others for possible misdeeds.

The migrant accused of starting the fire suffered only slight injuries and already was released from the hospital, presumably into custody. One of the private security guards has not yet been arrested.

A video from a security camera inside the facility shows guards walking away when the fire started inside the cell holding migrants and not making any attempt to release them. It was not clear whether those guards had keys to the cell doors.

There have been years of complaints about poor conditions and human rights violations at migrant detention facilities in Mexico, including inadequate ventilation, food and water, and overflowing toilets.

There also has been evidence of corruption throughout Mexico’s immigration system, in which everyone from lawyers and immigration officials to guards have taken bribes to allow migrants out of detention.

Little has been done up to now to address these concerns.