At least 39 people have died and dozens left injured after a fire broke out at a migrant facility in northern Mexico, the government’s National Migration Institute (INM) said on Tuesday.
Footage from the scene in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez, close to El Paso, Texas, showed soldiers and firefighters assisting the injured to safety.
Some patients reportedly received paramedic aid on the scene, while others were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment.
According to Alfredo Corchado of the Dallas Morning News, a raid by immigration authorities on Monday afternoon resulted in an unknown number of detainees being housed in the INM building just hours before the fire outbreak.
“I was here since one in the afternoon waiting for the father of my children, and when 10 p.m. rolled around smoke started coming out from everywhere,” said 31-year-old Viangly Infante, a Venezuelan national.
A rescuer who asked to remain anonymous said about 70 migrants were at the site.
The fire reportedly started on Monday night in a section of the complex reserved for men. The cause of the blaze is yet to be known, but an investigation has been launched by officials.
Earlier this month, U.S. authorities prevented hundreds of migrants from entering the country, most of whom were Venezuelans, after a sizable group attempted to push across the border.
A new asylum-seeking process that involves the use of a US government app has left many migrants frustrated with the difficulty in getting appointments to apply.
In mid-January, the Biden administration introduced the app called CBP One in an effort to make asylum requests at the border safer and more organized.
Now migrants must first visit a U.S. border port of entry predetermined by the app to receive a US appointment.
However, users claim that because of bugs and high demand, they have been unable to book appointments through the app, claiming that it has resulted in families being split up at the border.
Those criticizing the process have called attention to technical issues with the app and claim it is unclear how many appointments are available daily.
However, the US Department of Homeland Security said updates to the CBP One app will streamline and accelerate the system.