Newly released footage shows guards at a Mexican detention center racing away from a massive fire that killed 38 migrants without attempting to free those trapped behind locked gates.
The surveillance footage, obtained by Noticias 26 Univision El Paso, captured the guards quickly fleeing the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Ciudad Juárez as the flames could be seen building up in the corner of the room.
Two guards seen leaving don’t even look at the migrants frantically trying to escape from the locked cell.
At least one man can be seen standing at the door of the jail as the smoke fills the room in just seconds.
At least 38 of the 68 migrants trapped inside the holding well were killed. Of those who survived, 28 were injured and in “delicate-serious” condition, according to the National Immigration Institute.
The bodies of the deceased were laid out in rows under silver sheets outside the city’s immigration detention facility, which is located near the Stanton-Lerdo Bridge that links the US and Mexico over the Rio Grand River.
The city government rented refrigerated trailers to hold their bodies as they were being identified.
Officials said the migrants — who were from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador — had set their own mattresses on fire around 9 p.m. and placed them against the bars of the cell in protest after learning they would be deported.
“They never imagined that this would cause this terrible misfortune,” Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said.
One woman said she was waiting outside the center for her husband to be released when the blaze erupted.
“There was smoke everywhere. The ones they let out were the women, and those (employees) with immigration,” Viangly Infante Padrón said. “The men, they never took them out until the firefighters arrived.”
Padrón — who is seeking asylum in the US with her husband and three children — said he survived by dousing himself in water and pressing against a door.
He was treated for smoke inhalation.
Katiuska Márqudez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan woman with two children under age 5, was unsure whether her half-brother survived the inferno.
“We want to know if he is alive or if he’s dead,” she said, questioning how the guards could leave nearly 70 migrants to suffer the flames: “How could they not get them out?”
Márquez said she and her brother were detained Monday with about 20 others while they were waiting for an appointment with US authorities regarding asylum.
Women and children were released from the detention center after several hours, but the men were kept in custody.
Only male migrants were detained in the cell during the fire.
With Post wires