EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Eleven migrants remain in critical condition and on ventilators at Juarez’s General Hospital following a fire at a detention facility that killed 39 people on Monday.
On Friday, Dr. Carlos Perzabal, a surgeon, updated reporters on those 11 patients, adding that three are in severe condition.
A migrant from Guatemala, identified as Kevin, had to undergo surgery on Wednesday morning to have four fingers on his right hand amputated. Medical staff is in the process of transferring him to a burn unit in Chihuahua City.
Another patient, the doctor said, was briefly taken off the ventilator but almost immediately put back out of fear for his life. Some of the patients are also experiencing renal failure.
The doctor said patients — all men between the ages of 21 and 41 — did not suffer extensive burns to their skin, and most of their injuries were internal due to smoke inhalation.
Health officials acknowledged that dozens more were hospitalized at other hospitals around Juarez but could not comment on their conditions.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador traveled to Juarez on Friday. He called Monday’s tragedy one of the most painful moments of his administration.
“I confess it hurt me a lot, it damaged me,” López Obrador said before the trip. “It ripped my soul apart.”
According to El Diario de Juarez, however, Lopez Obrador did not meet with any of the patients nor any migrants, thousands of whom have been amassing in Juarez for months in hopes of being granted asylum in the U.S.
Instead, the president only spoke with federal employees inside Juarez’s Ginmansio del Colegio De Bachilleres.
That created some chaos and tense moments Wednesday in Juarez when dozens of migrants confronted the president while he was in a van outside the college’s gym.
People could be seen banging on the van and standing in front of it as it moved, demanding that he stop and talk to them.
Migrants said they wanted to let the president know they were in a crisis and ask for justice for the victims of Monday’s fire and their families.
Lopez Obrador was in Juarez to meet with federal employees promoting his social welfare programs.
A Mexican court on Thursday issued arrest warrants for six people in connection with the fire. They include three officials from the National Migration Institute, two private security guards and the person who allegedly started the fire, said Sara Irene Herrerías, the federal prosecutor in charge of the case.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Herrerías said all six would face charges of causing injury and death. She said five of the six were in custody, and that more arrests are possible.
Health officials set up a number for relatives of victims to call: (01152) 656-173-0700 ext. 54531 and 54536.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.