Mexico Asked to Pray for Daycare Fire Victims

Death Toll Now at 44; Most Under 2 Years Old

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HERMOSILLO, Mexico, JUNE 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Mexican episcopal conference has sent a message of condolence to the victims and their families of the tragic daycare fire that killed 44 children in Hermosillo.



The note, signed by the conference's secretary-general, Bishop José González of Guadalajara, asked all Mexicans to pray for the souls of those who died in the blaze, and for the speedy recovery of the more than 30 victims who remain in the hospital.

Four more children died today from injuries sustained in Friday's fire at the ABC day care center in the capital city of the state of Sonora, raising the death toll to 44.

Desperate attempts were made to evacuate all 142 children, ranging from 6 months to 5 years of age, through the building's only working exit. Most of the victims were under the age of 2.

Three children with the most serious injuries were flown to Sacramento to the Shriners Hospitals for Children -- Northern California. A three-year-old girl with burn injuries over 80% of her body and a three-year-old boy with burn injuries over 50% of his body arrived to the hospital Saturday. A two-year-old boy with burn injuries over 20% of his total body arrived today.

"We unite ourselves to the sorrow that has seized the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, together with its pastor Archbishop José Ulises Macías Salcedo, and the pain of the parents, friends and citizens," the bishops said.

The bishops said they would pray so God would "give strength, peace and consolation to the families of the little ones, who are now enjoying the presence of the Lord."

The Mexican bishops asked the entire nation to pray for the eternal rest of the departed, for the children that remain the hospital with severe injuries, "so they will recover quickly and return to the arms of their parents."

"We ask the various levels of government to carry out a quick and timely investigation to clear up this lamentable event," they added.

The state of Sonora decreed today through Wednesday as days of mourning, and has lowered to flag to fly at half-mast.