At least 39 migrants were killed when a fire burned at a migrant processing center along the border in Mexico early Tuesday morning, and 40 more were injured in the blaze.
Rescuers confirmed the death toll numbers and told Reuters that the death toll from the fire is likely to grow as they continue their efforts at the scene.
The facility is close to the Stanton International Bridge, which links Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, Texas.
Footage from the scene showed burned bodies covered with foil blankets along with soldiers and firefighters helping the injured away from the facility.
Video from Sky News from inside the facility showed the fire burning in a cell and spreading to others as guards walked away, leaving migrants locked inside.
The Guardian reported that the fire may have started as part of a protest at the center, which had put 68 people in a cell meant for 50 and allegedly deprived them of water.
The UN Secretary General has called for a thorough investigation of the fire, and Mexico's attorney general office has reportedly already launched an investigation at the scene.
The facility and others like it house migrants waiting to cross the border illegally into the U.S., under agreements the U.S. has with Mexico to avoid an overwhelming influx into the U.S. Critics have complained that migrants detained in Mexico face unsafe and overcrowded conditions compared to facilities in the U.S., but the migrants should not really be there at all since they are trying to enter the U.S. illegally.
The fire occurred just after a number of Venezuelan migrants had been rounded up and sent to the facility for begging on the streets. At least 28 of the victims were from Guatamala and 13 were from Honduras, the Guardian reported.
José Guadalupe Torres Campos, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ciudad Juárez, held a mass on Tuesday for the victims of the fire.
“We have insisted, even the pope has insisted, that the [Mexican] government change its current immigration policies. We need reform that respects migrants,” he said.
He admitted the church hadn't done enough to help and pledged more assistance with the migrant problem in the area even though the church runs several shelters there.
“We’re all responsible, even myself,” he said. “Either by omission, indifference, action, or because we haven’t done the right thing.”