Saturday, June 6, 2009

At least 29 children killed in Mexican daycare centre blaze

Posted: 06 June 2009 0915 hrs

090606-0915hrs Police guard the zone around a daycare centre where at least 29 children died in a fire in Hermosillo, Mexico.

MEXICO CITY: At least 29 children died, including many who were asphyxiated after a fire raced through a daycare centre in the northwestern Mexican border state of Sonora, local police said on Friday.

"We're still bringing bodies out," a spokesman for the local prosecutor's office, Jose Larrinaga, said shortly beforehand.

Radio reports said there were many newborn babies in part of the centre where the fire caused the roof to collapse.

Local media reported that 176 children had been in the ABC daycare centre when the fire broke out at around 3:00pm (2000 GMT) in state capital Hermosillo.

State investigators rushed to the scene, following firefighters, Red Cross workers and police, according to the police statement.

Local press said that city residents also helped out in the face of the rapidly growing disaster.

The origin of the blaze was unclear early Friday evening.

Local media suggested it had started in a neighbouring tire shop, a claim the owners rapidly denied, according to news reports.

Medics transferred five children who had been identified by their parents to Sonora State children's hospital, a medical worker told AFP.

At least 30 children with serious burns were transferred overnight to a specialised hospital across the border in Arizona, according to El Imparcial daily.

The daycare centre belonged to Mexico's social security network, the Mexican presidency said in a statement which expressed President Felipe Calderon's "profound pain".

Calderon called on the national social security director, Daniel Karam Toumeh, to personally visit families and injured children at the scene, it added.

The federal government sent three air ambulances and more than a dozen specialised doctors to the scene, the statement said.

State Governor Eduardo Bours was in Arizona when the fire broke out and travelled to Hermosillo in the evening.

- AFP/so

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