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Officials linked to Mexican fire resign

TWO state government officials whose wives are owners of a Mexican day care center where 44 children died in a fire resigned on Tuesday, saying they wanted to clear the way for an investigation into the blaze.

Antonio Salido, finance director for Sonora state's infrastructure department, and Alfonso Escalante, the assistant secretary for livestock, announced their resignations at a joint news conference accompanied by their wives.

"To avoid any type of speculation, we have presented our resignations as public servants to allow for a better clarification of events," Salido read from a statement. Salido's wife, Marcia Gomez del Campo, is related to first lady Margarita Zavala, who said on Monday that the two have a common great-grandfather but have never met. Escalante is married to Sandra Tellez. Salido denied the owners obtained permits for the day care center because of family ties.

"The functioning of this day care center is not due to special help or influences but to the investment from a group of partners," Salido said.

It was unknown if there were other owners of the day care center besides the two women.

A fire that started at a neighboring warehouse swiftly spread to the ABC Day Care Center in Hermosillo last Friday, killing 44 children and injuring 38 children and adults.

Salido said the day care center had three clearly marked emergency exits and strictly followed safety rules established by the Mexican Social Security Institute, which outsourced services to them.

"It passed all the inspections that current regulations require," Salido said.

Witnesses have said that no fire alarm or sprinkler system went off, and one mother said there was only one exit and that a second door to the center was bolted shut.


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