September 19, 2020

Death toll rises to 53 in attack on Mexico casino

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MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — The death toll climbed as workers continued to pull bodies out of a burned casino in northern Mexico, where gunmen spread gasoline and ignited a fire that trapped and killed at least 53 gamblers and employees.

Family members gathered at the caution tape outside the Casino Royale after the Thursday afternoon fire in the northern industrial city of Monterrey, some crying and others yelling at police for providing no information. Later they were allowed to view bodies in the morgue to help identify the victims.

Francisco Tamayo, 28, of Monterrey, said he and family members looked at some 40 bodies in search of his mother, Sonia de la Pena, 47, who loved to gamble at the casino and was there on average four days a week. They had yet to find her.

When Tamayo learned of the fire from television, he first went to the scene.

“She’s probably here,” said Tamayo, who repeatedly called her cell phone, only to hear that it was out of the area of service.

Gov. Rodrigo Medina told the Televisa network late Thursday that the death toll had reached 53. The fire in a city that has seen a surge in drug cartel-related violence represented one of the deadliest attacks on an entertainment center in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.

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