458 boys and girls rescued from filthy children’s refuge in Mexico

Hundreds of Mexican children have been rescued from a squalid refuge after some of them had to beg on the streets for food.

The government said they had removed 458 children and a large number of  adults held against their will from the home for abandoned boys and girls in the city of Zamora yesterday.

Soldiers and police raided the refuge known as La Gran Familia (The Big Family) after a deluge of complaints about conditions there.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo said: “We found that there were around 500 children in truly terrible conditions.”

La Gran Familia's Facebook page says its children receive schooling there. It took in children abandoned by troubled parents.

About 40% of Mexicans live in poverty according to ChildFund International, which says many families cannot afford to send their children to school.

Officials said some of the children at the refuge suffered sexual abuse. Residents had to beg for money on the streets, eat unsafe food and sleep on floors infested by rats, ticks and fleas.

The refuge was home to 278 boys, 174 girls and six infants as well as 138 adults aged up to 40.

Authorities are questioning the home's owner, Rosa Verduzco.

Salvador Jara, governer of the state of Michoacan, said: 'I'm in utter dismay because we weren't expecting the conditions we found at the group home.”