Survivor of Mexico detention fire and his family cross into U.S.

Viangly Infante, a Venezuelan migrant whose husband Eduard Caraballo was injured after a fire broke out Monday night at an immigration detention center, gestures with her children inside a vehicle after entering the United States to continue her immigration process in El Paso, Texas, U.S., April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

El PASO (Reuters) - After her husband survived a fire which killed dozens of migrants at a detention center in northern Mexico, Venezuelan Viangly Infante crossed into the United States on Saturday, in search of new opportunities for her three children.

Infante's husband, Eduard Caraballo, was transferred by ambulance from a hospital in Ciudad Juarez, where the fire happened, to a health center in El Paso, Texas, where he is receiving oxygen for damage to his lungs.

A fire on Monday night broke out at a detention center run by Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM), killing 39 migrants from Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela and pushing Mexican authorities to promise tough consequences for those responsible.

"The storm has passed," Infante, 31, said while holding back tears as she walked to the vehicle which would take her to a migrant center in El Paso. She carried her infant daughter in her arms and was flanked by her two sons aged 12 and 13 years old.

Like millions of others, the family decided to flee Venezuela's economic and political crisis, setting off for the United States last October on a journey that took them through the infamous Darien Gap, a tangled jungle separating Colombia and Panama that is known for being one of Latin America's most dangerous regions.

The family had arrived in Ciudad Juarez just before the new year, but only Caraballo managed to cross into the United States. He returned to Mexico in February after his daughter fell ill, and then authorities in the city detained him last week and transferred to the center, where he almost died in the fire.

Mexican authorities have shut down the detention center and arrested five people over the migrants' deaths, including INM staff, a private security agent, and a Venezuelan accused of starting the fire.

In the days following the fire, the U.S government announced it would aid those affected, with Infante's family the first to receive help.

"For a while I thought we wouldn't make it, but thanks to the help of God and (international) organizations, we are here," Infante told Reuters.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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