MEXICO CITY // Seven state and two federal officials were arrested yesterday and nine others were being sought on negligent homicide charges in a day care fire that killed 47 children in northern Mexico. The state officials worked for the Sonora Finance Department, which operated an adjacent warehouse for cars, tires and paperwork. Investigators say the fire may have started with a short circuit or overheating in the air conditioning system of the warehouse, which lacked fire alarms and extinguishers. Flames spread to the neighbouring ABC day care centre.
"They are employees and officials with the Finance Department who have a direct responsibility for the warehouse where the fire started," the state attorney general Abel Murrieta said. In addition to the seven Sonora state officials arrested, six more were being sought. The Federal Attorney General's office also said two women day care coordinators employed by the federal Social Security Institute in Sonora were arrested and warrants issued for three other institute officials.
The warehouse blaze in Hermosillo, Sonora's state capital, spread to the roof of the day care centre, sending fire raining down on the children and teachers. Thirty children were killed that day, and 17 more have died since - the latest a three-year-old girl with burns on 65 per cent of the her body who died on Sunday. The day care centre had passed a safety inspection just two weeks before the June 5 fire, and its owners have said there were three clearly marked emergency exits. But firefighters, parents and civilian rescuers said they fought to evacuate the children through the only door that was not blocked.