(CNN) At least 39 people have died in a fire at an immigration center in the city of Ciudad Juarez on the US-Mexico border, authorities said on Tuesday.
Officials said the fire broke out at the office of the National Institute of Migration (INM) after bringing in a group of migrants from the city’s streets and detaining them.
Mexico’s National Migration Agency has not released the cause of the fire or the nationalities of the victims, who have opened an investigation into the fire, which injured 29 people.
“It is with deep sadness and regret that we learned of the fire at the INM in Ciudad Juarez,” Andrea Chavez, federal deputy of Ciudad Juarez, tweeted on Tuesday.
We will wait for official information and from this moment forward, we send our condolences to the families of the migrants. The FGR opened an investigation,” Chavez said.
Body bags were lined up near the scene of the fire, which was extinguished, a witness told Reuters. Most of the immigrants at the center are Venezuelans, witness
es was added.
Viangly Infante, a 31-year-old Venezuelan, told the agency, “I’ve been waiting for my children’s father since one in the afternoon, and around 10 at night, smoke started coming from everywhere.”
Her husband, 27-year-old Eduard Caraballo, was inside the detention center and survived by spraying water on himself, as Infante said he saw several dead bodies.
The fires have been among the worst in recent years in Mexico, which has seen record levels along its border with the United States.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration Accelerated efforts Limit the number of migrants at the border.
In February, it released a new rule that would largely bar immigrants who travel to other countries en route to a shared border from applying for asylum in the United States, marking a departure from decades of precedent in proposed regulations reminiscent of Trump-era policy.
CNN has reached out to Mexican immigration officials for a report on the fire.