47th Child Dies from Mexico Day Care Fire Wounds

A 3-year-old girl has died of wounds from a fire at a northern Mexican day care, bringing the death toll from the disaster to 47 children, authorities said Monday.

Jimena Alvarez died at a hospital Sunday, more than two weeks after the fire at the day care center in the northern city of Hermosillo, the Sonora state Health Department said in a statement. The toddler had burns over 65 percent of her body.

Mexico's Social Security Institute, which had outsourced services to the privately run day care, said it would file a civil lawsuit against the Sonora state government and the day care owners for negligence in the June 5 fire.

Institute director Daniel Karam said Sonora's Finance Department bore responsibility because it operated an adjacent warehouse where the fire started. He did not specify what damages the lawsuit would seek or when it would be filed.

Officials say the fire may have been caused by a short circuit or overheating in the warehouse's air conditioning system. The blaze spread to the roof of the day care, sending fire raining down on the children and teachers.

Investigators say there were no fire alarms or extinguishers at the warehouse for cars, tires and paperwork.

The day care center passed a safety inspection on May 26, and
its owners have said there were three clearly marked emergency exits. But Karam said the owners neglected safety measures.

Firefighters, parents and civilian rescuers said they fought to evacuate the children through the only door that was not blocked and through large holes that neighbors had punched through the walls.

Although the day care center had fire alarms, they failed to go off because the smoke seeped through a space between the roof and the ceiling panels where the alarms were attached.

Sonora state prosecutors are also conducting a criminal investigation into the fire.

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