Am adding this report from the NYT, if for no other reason to highlight one particular paragraph, which is in bold below, and also emphasize, how this day care center was supposedly for poor, or working-poor people in Mexico (Hermosillo no less, which relies heavily on its trade with the U.S. and is close to the border). Of course this is a travesty, but it does reveal how every aspect of the lives of people in a "poorer" country like Mexico, are affected on a daily basis.: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/07/world/am...agewanted=print
June 7, 2009
Mexico Vows to Investigate Day Care Fire
By MARC LACEY
MEXICO CITY — Most of Mexico never knew little María, Julio or Fátima, preschoolers from the northwestern state of Sonora who were dropped off by their parents at a government-subsidized day care center on Friday morning and ended up by day’s end at the morgue.
But the country mourned them on Saturday, along with Carlos, Sofía and Dafne — 38 children in all — who died of smoke inhalation and asphyxiation when a fire swept through their day care center in Hermosillo several hours before it was time for them to be picked up.
An emotional President Felipe Calderón, the father of two young boys, ordered a government investigation and, during a speech on Saturday, offered his prayers to the parents of those who died.
“I want to express in the name of the federal government, of all Mexicans and of me personally, our condolences to the mothers and fathers for this tragic accident,” he said. Mr. Calderón later visited two hospitals in Hermosillo and spoke with several children who were recovering.
The scene at the ABC day care center was chilling, with charred baby clothes, blackened bassinets and toys littering the sidewalk. Holes had been punched through the wall of the center to evacuate the children, and a frantic caravan of ambulances and cars had shuttled the children, who ranged in age from 6 months to 5 years, to the hospital.
“Where’s God?” a police officer who participated in the rescue cried out in tears, according to a radio report. Neighbors pitched in to save as many children as they could after teachers ran from the smoke-filled center to sound the alarm.
“We passed their little bodies from one of us to the next to get them out,” Roberto Bustamante, a neighbor, told the newspaper Reforma.Gov. Eduardo Bours of Sonora said 142 babies, toddlers and young children were being watched over by six employees when the fire broke out about 3 p.m., the news media reported.
Mr. Calderón ordered the government to assist the families of those who died, and he called on the attorney general to find the cause of the fire. It was believed to have started at a nearby store or tire depot and then to have spread to the day care center, which provided services for the Mexican Social Security Institute in a working-class neighborhood.
Political parties said they would suspend campaigning for elections in July. With only about half of the victims identified by Saturday morning and a number of survivors admitted with injuries, parents sat outside hospitals awaiting word on the fate of their children. The toll continued to rise through the day.
Questions were already being raised about whether the deaths could have been prevented. Some news reports said the center lacked working emergency exits.
Governor Bours said 20 children remained in critical condition and that 80 of the 142 had gone home. Among the 20 in critical condition is a 3-year-old girl named Alejandra who has burns over 80 percent of her body. Some of the most severe burn victims were being sent to Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento, he said.
“This was an enormous, painful tragedy,” Mr. Bours said.