Parents bury children as death toll from Mexican daycare fire rises

Grieving parents buried their children Sunday after a fire killed 41 infants and toddlers at a day care centre in northern Mexico.
People stand outside of the perimeter set up by police around the burning daycare centre in Hermosillo in Mexico's Sonora state on Friday. ((El Imparcial/Associated Press))
Grieving parents buried their children Sunday after a fire killed 41 infants and toddlers at a daycare centre in northern Mexico.

Funeral processions drove slowly to churches in the northwestern Sonora state capital of Hermosillo decorated with balloons and flowers.

The death toll rose to 41 on Sunday after three children died in hospitals two days after the fast-moving fire at ABC Daycare, according to Sonora state health secretary Raymundo Lopez Vucovich.

Most of the victims died of organ collapse caused by smoke inhalation, he said.

Of the 26 still in hospital, 22 are children, he said. Twelve of those children remain in critical condition, he said.

A girl attends a public mass on Sunday to honour the 41 children killed in a fire at a daycare centre in Hermosillo, Mexico. ((Alexandre Meneghini/AP Photo))
There were about 142 children, ranging from six months to five years in age, and six adults, at the daycare when the fire occurred. The Reforma newspaper reported that the building was a converted factory with no emergency exits.

A May 26 inspection found that the building complied with safety standards, said Daniel Karam, director of Mexico's Social Security Institute, but he acknowledged that security requirements might need re-evaluation.

The fire spread from an adjoining tire and car warehouse Friday afternoon to the roof of the daycare, officials said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon arrived in the city late Saturday, promising grieving families full government support and a thorough investigation.

The deaths in Hermosillo again raised questions about building safety in Mexico.

In 2000, a fire killed 21 people at a Mexico City disco that only had one available exit, lacked smoke detectors and did not have enough fire extinguishers. Many of the dead were found near the club's emergency exit, which was locked with a chain. More than 140 nightclubs were closed for code violations after that fire.

Officials cracked down on code violations last year after a deadly stampede at a nightclub killed 12 in Mexico City.

With files from The Associated Press