Outrage is growing in Mexico following a fire at a migrant centre in Ciudad Juárez that killed 38 migrants.

Unverified footage has emerged, which appears to show the moment the fire started at the centre run by Mexico’s National Migration Institute (INE).

Uniformed officials seem to walk away as the blaze erupts in a corner, leaving a group of men behind in what appears to be a locked cell.

The men unsuccessfully try to open the barred door as smoke quickly spreads.

The 32-second clip appears to come from a security camera inside the facility, which is located just south of the border crossing at the Stanton-Lerdo bridge, which links Ciudad Juárez with the city of El Paso in Texas.

The BBC has reverse searched the thumbnail and seven frames from the video and found no copy of it previous to Tuesday evening, indicating that the footage is recent.

Mexico’s interior minister did not deny the video’s provenance when asked about the footage by a Mexican journalist.

The minister, Adán Augusto López, said the government had had access to the video shortly after the fire but he did not comment about it any further.

The footage has been widely shared on Twitter and published by a number of Mexican newspapers with many people expressing their shock at what they said was a failure by the uniformed staff to act.

They point to the moment at which one of the men in uniform seems to ignore a man behind the barred door, who appears to try to open it and fails as the flames spread.

As the video has no sound it is not possible to ascertain what, if anything, was said as the fire erupted. It is also unclear what the uniformed staff are doing when not on camera.

The smoke then fills the room making it hard to make out anything beyond the glare of the flames.

The footage appears to back up the account of the wife of a Venezuelan migrant who survived the fire.

Viangly, a Venezuelan migrant, reacts outside an ambulance for her injured husband Eduard Caraballo while Mexican authorities and firefighters remove injured migrants, mostly Venezuelans, from inside the National Migration Institute (INM) building during a fire, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 27, 2023.
Viangly Infante Padrón’s husband was inside the facility when the fire broke out. He has survived

Viangly Infante Padrón told reporters that officers had left her husband and the other male migrants “behind locked bars” as they fled.

“There was smoke everywhere. They let the women out and the migration staff, but it wasn’t until the firefighters arrived that they let the men out,” she told Associated Press news agency.

She also said that the men had been protesting because they had not been given any water while in custody.

On Monday, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had said that the migrants had set mattresses alight “when they learned that they’d be deported”.

On Tuesday, he said a thorough investigation would be carried out and vowed there would be “no impunity and no one will be protected”.

Mexican officials say 68 migrants were being held in a section reserved for adult males in the facility. The majority were from Guatemala with the others hailing from Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela.

Mexican officials have released the name of all 68 men who were at the site when the blaze broke out but have not yet provided clarification as to which of them are dead and which have survived.

Mexico's National Migration Institute Commissioner Francisco Garduno visits a migrant injured after a fire broke out late on Monday at a migrant holding centre, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico March 28, 2023.
INM Commissioner Francisco Garduno visited some of the injured migrants in hospital

They also revised the number of dead down from 40 to 38, while 28 are reported to be seriously injured and suffering from smoke inhalation.

Distraught relatives have complained about not being given enough information about the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.

They also queried why the men were being held in the first place. Mexican officials said they had been picked up on the streets of Ciudad Juárez on Monday and taken to the migration centre.

Their relatives said the men had been trying to earn some money by selling sweets and washing windscreens at street corners.

The government of El Salvador has condemned what it described as “the very serious actions of the personnel of the migration station (…) during the fire that left dozens of people of different nationalities dead, including several Salvadoreans”.

The Salvadorean government has demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.

Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said on Tuesday that “those directly responsible for the fire” had been turned over to investigators, without specifying who those individuals are.

The fire comes at a time when Mexico is struggling to deal with an influx of migrants, most of whom are crossing Mexico in the hope of reaching the United States.

Many of them have been camped out in cities on the US-Mexico border like Ciudad Juárez for weeks and sometimes months awaiting the possible lifting of a Trump-era policy which allows US border officials to deny individuals entry to the US “to prevent the spread of communicable diseases”.

The Biden Administration had moved to end the policy, which is known as Title 42, last year, but the US Supreme Court blocked the move at the end of December and it currently remains in place.

However, many migrants from Central and South America, as well as from as far afield as Africa, continue to embark on long treks to the US-Mexico border in the hope of the restrictions being lifted in the coming months.