Seven state officials have been arrested for negligent homicide in a day care fire that killed 47 children in northern Mexico, an official said Monday.
The seven are officials with the northern Sonora state Finance Department, which operated a warehouse where the June 5 fire started, then spread to the adjacent day care center, said Sonora State Attorney General Abel Murrieta. He said arrests warrants have been issued for six other Finance Department officials.
"They are employees and officials with the Finance Department who have a direct responsibility for the warehouse where the fire started," Murrieta said at a news conference.
Investigators say the fire may have been caused by a short circuit or overheating in the warehouse air conditioning system. There were no fire alarms or extinguishers at the warehouse for cars, tires and paperwork.
The blaze spread to the roof of the day care, sending fire raining down on the children and teachers.
Thirty children died the day of the fire in Hermosillo, the Sonora state capital, and many more were badly injured. The 47th victim, a 3-year-old girl with burns on 65 percent of the her body, died on Sunday.
Murrieta said it was up to federal prosecutors to decide whether the owners of the day care would face charges because the national Social Security Institute had outsourced services to the privately run center.
The day care center passed a safety inspection on May 26, and its owners have said there were three clearly marked emergency exits. But Karam said the owners neglected safety measures.
Firefighters, parents and civilian rescuers said they fought to evacuate the children through the only door that was not blocked and through large holes that neighbors had punched through the walls.
Although the day care center had fire alarms, they failed to go off because the smoke seeped through a space between the roof and the ceiling panels where the alarms were attached.
The Social Security Institute said it would file a civil lawsuit against Sonora's Finance Department and the day care owners for negligence.