Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday that the fire at a migrant detention center which killed 39 people broke out after some migrants set fire to mattresses to protest their deportations.
The mattresses were set on fire by protesters who were told that they would be deported, Lopez Obrador said.
“They didn’t think that would cause this terrible tragedy,” he told reporters.
In a statement, Mexico’s National Institute of Migration, which runs the facility in Ciudad Juarez near the U.S. border, said the agency “strongly rejects the acts that led to this tragedy,” without elaborating further.
The fire spread through the center which was housing migrants from Venezuela, Guatemala, and Honduras. At least 29 people were taken to nearby hospitals with injuries.