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Protests outside hearing on Mexico's day care tragedy

  • Story Highlights
  • Official hands over information parents have been demanding regarding fire
  • 48 children were killed last month in fire at a government-regulated facility
  • Family members protest outside Congress, demand justice
  • Some legislators criticize how the day care centers are run
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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- Anger and protests continued in Mexico as the head of a government agency that oversees day care centers testified before Congress about the deaths of 48 children last month at a center.

Paulette Padilla, 2, died during the fire at the day care center in Hermosillo, Mexico.

A boy looks at the back of the building where the fatal fire occurred in the northwestern Mexican city.

Daniel Karam, director of the Mexican Institute for Social Security, gave the Congressional Permanent Committee information Wednesday about more than 1,500 privately owned day care centers that are part of the government's child-care system.

That information revealed the names of day care center owners, which parents of the dead children had been demanding.

Officials have determined that the June 5 fire started in an air-conditioning unit at a government-owned warehouse in the same building as the ABC day care center in the city of Hermosillo, in the northwestern state of Sonora. Fourteen children remain hospitalized.

Mexican authorities have ordered the arrest of 32 people in connection with the fire. The warrants are for the day care's owners and legal representatives, public officials from the Mexican Institute of Social Security, and workers from the warehouse.

On Tuesday, the nation's attorney general's office asked the Interpol international police agency to arrest any suspects who may have fled the country.

The attorney general's office said it also is exchanging information with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and the U.S. Marshals Service, as well as immigration and police officials in Canada.

While Karam testified before Congress, demonstrators outside the building demanded justice and punishment for those responsible. Parents who lost children in the fire were among them.

"We will go anywhere we have to," said Roberto Zavala, the father of a dead child. "What we want is that there be justice and punishment for the guilty. That's what we want."

Members of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, commonly known as the PRD, blame authorities from the social security institute.

"We have information from looking at that day care in particular and the system in general that tell us that there was no control," said Javier Gonzalez Garza, a PRD member of Congress.

Other legislators criticized how the day care centers are run, saying they have become just a business.

"It is known that in some cases the enrollment rolls have been inflated, that is to say, children who actually don't use the service have been enrolled with the intention of getting more money from the [social security] institute," said Sen. Carlos Lozano, a member of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party.

Parents of the dead children and their supporters have held five demonstrations to protest what they see as foot-dragging by authorities in punishing those responsible. A sixth demonstration is planned for Saturday in Hermosillo, the state-run Notimex news agency said.

More than 7,000 people marched for two hours in Hermosillo last Saturday, Notimex said. Many of the demonstrators carried photographs of the dead children.

CNN en Español's Rey Rodriguez in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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