Questions on a Mexican Tragedy


I was temporarily distracted by this insane story of city police officers pulling guns on Mexican federal agents, but wanted to write about this recent tragedy. The death toll from a fire that ravaged a day care center in Sonora, Mexico has risen to 44, and, understandably, the questions are piling up.

According to Sonora state attorney general Abel Murrieta, the fire may have been started by overheating or a short circuit at an air conditioning vent in a neighboring warehouse. But the government-run facility — designed to provide low-income families with child care — seemed to only enable the spread of the fire. No sprinklers or fire alarms went off, and the adults did not detect the smoke creeping in through the cracks.

Hired to care of 173 children, all six adults made it out alive. Out of the roughly 123 kids there at the time, several are either dead or badly burned. When trying to get out of the facility, apparently one door was padlocked and another stuck, forcing one man to drive his truck into the center to rescue his child.

So, now the why’s. Why was a government-run child center not adequately equipped to handle a fire? No working sprinklers or fire alarm? Some children slept through the fire until it was too late.

Why were there so many children for so few adults? Mexico runs 1,500 centers to give low-cost care for at least 200,000 children. The ratio on that figure is somehow not reassuring.

And why was the staff not adequately advised on how to handle emergencies? There were apparently fire extinguishers and emergency exits, but they were not used.

Mexico’s Human Rights Commission says it is now investigating for negligence.

Photo via Getty

Comment 1

  1. deannadent June 10, 2009

    The story around the world . . . the government often fails those who need the most. I’m glad you posted about this, it makes me so upset and I think about the orphanage in Imuris where the gates and doors are often locked at night or during the day and only a handful of people have keys.

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