(Bloomberg) -- The fire in an immigration facility in northern Mexico took the lives of 39 of the migrants trapped inside after both private security and federal agents failed to allow them to exit, Mexico’s top security official said Wednesday evening.

“They weren’t capable of opening a gate. That’s what’s being investigated,” Public Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodriguez said at a press conference. “Who was it that didn’t allow these people to exit? Clearly, we have a serious crime here.”  

Authorities have identified eight people as likely responsible for the deaths during the fire at a detention center in the border city of Ciudad Juarez on Monday night, Rodriguez said. The eight include two federal agents, a state-level migration officer and five private security employees, she said.

None of the individuals opened a door to allow the migrants to escape during the fire, which was set by some of the detainees, according to Sara Herrerias, a human rights official at the prosecutor’s office, who spoke alongside Rodriguez.

The deaths of the migrants who were protesting in the facility has highlighted the tension over Mexico’s efforts to crackdown on migrants trying to reach the US. 

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador had said earlier that the detainees were protesting against their impending deportation. The migrants were from Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia and Ecuador.

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