Mexico day care fire toll reaches 38 (Lead)

June 7th, 2009 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Mexico City, June 7 (DPA) The death toll in a fire that swept a public day care centre in northwestern Mexico has risen to 38, with fears that the number could rise further as some of the injured children are in critical condition, authorities said Saturday.
Twenty-three children and six adults remained in hospital with burn and smoke poisoning injuries in the incident in Hermosillo city, 1,900 km north of Mexico City. Fifteen of the children between the ages of three months and four years are in life-threatening condition.

Earlier, authorities had reported 31 dead, but in the meantime the figure had risen further.

The fire broke out around 3 p.m. (2200 GMT) Friday at either a neighbouring tyre dealership or a warehouse and spread quickly to the ABC Day Care Centre.

Authorities were investigating what sparked the fire, which spread quickly through the day care centre’s foam insulation. The facility did not have any emergency exits.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon expressed his condolences and ordered the general prosecutor to investigate the cause of the fire.

The president and his family “express their deep pain and send heart-felt condolences to the relatives of the children who were killed,” according to a statement released by his office.

The federal government sent 15 specialists in reconstructive surgery and intensive care and three air ambulances, as well as equipment to aid in breathing and other needs.

The government said the ABC Day Care Centre was an arm of the Mexican Institute of Social Insurance, a public institution.

The governor of Sonora, Eduardo Bours, rushed home from a meeting in the neighbouring US state of Arizona to supervise emergency procedures.

Civil rescue authorities said they did not have an exact number of children and caretakers who were in the centre at the time of the fire.

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