(Ciudad Juárez) At least 39 migrants died in a fire that hit a detention center in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez (North), on the border with the United States, the Mexican government announced on Tuesday.

The National Institute for Migration (INM) “deplores the death of 39 migrant people so far following a fire”, according to a press release.

An AFP journalist was able to see the firefighters and rescuers transporting several bodies under blankets in the parking lot of the National Institute for Migration (INM) located near the border.

Reached by telephone by AFP, the INM confirmed the fire, but refused to give any information on the victims. According to local media citing unidentified official sources, dozens of people are believed to have died.

A rescuer who spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of permission said around 70 migrants, mostly Venezuelans, were at the site.

Vinagly, a Venezuelan, screams in despair outside the center where her 27-year-old husband was taken after his arrest. “ They took him in an ambulance ”, she assures. She doesn’t know anything about her condition and complains that the center officials “don’t say anything”.

The fire started shortly before midnight Monday, prompting the mobilization in the early morning Tuesday of firefighters and dozens of ambulances.

Ciudad Juárez, neighboring El Paso (Texas), is one of the border towns from which many undocumented migrants seek asylum in the United States.

Since 2014, around 7,661 migrants have died or gone missing en route to the United States, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).