HERMOSILLO, Mexico - Relatives and friends watched the tiny white casket lowered into the ground. They each dropped white roses into the grave. Somebody attached a Dora the Explorer balloon to the cross marking the resting place of 2-year-old Maria Magdalena Millan.

"I love you and I don't want to leave you here," her mother screamed at the funeral Saturday.

Maria Magdalena and 37 other children died in a fire at the ABC day care center in the northern Mexican city of Hermosillo on Friday, despite desperate attempts to evacuate babies and toddlers through the building's only working exit.

One father crashed his pickup truck through the wall in an effort to rescue his child.

Delfina Ruelas, 60, said her grandchild German Leon died of his burns Saturday morning, three days after his fourth birthday. She and her husband saw television news reports that the ABC day care was on fire Friday and rushed over that evening.

"I thought he wasn't that burned and that we would find him OK, but he was very burned," said Ruelas, dissolving into tears outside the morgue in the northern city of Hermosillo, where she waited along with 30 other relatives. "They operated on him yesterday, and he held on, but today he couldn't hold on."

Firefighters carried injured children through the front door - the building's only working exit - and through large holes that a civilian knocked into the walls before rescue crews arrived, according to a fire department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the fire.

Noe Velasquez, an employee at a nearby auto parts store who helped pull out five toddlers, said the father of one of the children rammed his pickup truck through a wall. Velasquez did not know if the man's child survived.

"I didn't sleep last night. I've never gone through anything like that in all my life," he said.

The tragedy in Hermosillo, capital of the northwestern state of Sonora with a population of about 560,000, once again raised questions about building safety in Mexico.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.