26 Aug 2011

Dozens die after gang sets fire to casino

7:57 pm on 26 August 2011

Armed men have killed at least 53 people in an attack on a casino in northern Mexico that left the building ablaze with gamblers trapped inside.

Bodies continue to be pulled out of the Casino Royale in Monterrey, 230km from the Texas border, with officials saying the death toll could rise.

A survivor told a TV station that a group of masked armed men burst inside, sprayed petrol and set fire to the building, Reuters reports.

Officials say many patrons ran to the toilets for refuge, but died from asphyxiation as smoke engulfed the casino.

Monterrey, a city of 4 million, has become a focal point of the violence stemming from the president, Felipe Calderson's crackdown on deadly drug cartels.

The prosperous industrial city is being disputed by two rival drug cartels - Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel.