The fire that claimed the lives of at least 39 people this Monday night in a shelter of the National Institute of Migrations (INM) in Ciudad Juárez "had to do with a protest that they started, we suppose, that they found out about that they were going to be deported," explained Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (nicknamed AMLO) at his press conference on Tuesday.
The fire started at 9:30 p.m., according to the president, when, "as a protest, they put mattresses from the hostel at the door of the shelter and set them on fire."
"They did not imagine that this was going to cause this terrible misfortune," López Obrador said.
Mexican authorities remove migrants from the burned down center of the National Institute of Migration in Ciudad Juárez.
Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters
"We still don't know the names and nationality of those who unfortunately lost their lives," he explained, "what we do know is that they are mainly Central American migrants, and some from Venezuela."
In a previous statement, the INM said that all the victims were adults from Central and South America.
"It's very sad," lamented the president, who assured that the Attorney General's Office is already investigating what happened.
The flames devastated the area reserved for men in the building, located on the Stanton-Lerdo International Bridge that connects the Mexican state of Chihuahua with the Texan city of El Paso.
Emergency personnel attend to the victims of the fire at the migrant shelter in Ciudad Juárez. JOSE LUIS GONZALEZ / REUTERS
Local authorities had detained some 70 migrants on Monday, whom they accused of causing riots in the street, who were transferred to the INM facilities in the city and distributed in cells that were closed with padlocks, according to an anonymous official source cited by the newspaper El País.
According to a source from the General Directorate of Civil Protection to the local newspaper El Sol de Parral, one of the survivors of the tragedy assured that "when [the migrants] asked the guard to open the door, he refused to do so."