25 people killed after explosion at Mexican Oil facility

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 1, 2013

An explosion occurred at one of the buildings at Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in Mexico on Thursday. The event took place shortly before 16:00 (GMT Mexican) and the causes are still unknown.

At least 25 people have died and 101 were injured, said the Secretary of the Interior, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, who gave a press conference accompanied by the Secretaries of Defense and the Navy. Seven hours after the event, most Mexicans were still unaware of the cause of the explosion. According to Osorio Chong, the Government remains open to all possibilities and is still carrying out a full investigation.

The explosion reportedly took place in the basement of building B2, which is part of the complex of buildings of Pemex located in the east of the capital. Some of the injured were taken to the Central Hospital in Azcapotzalco located a few kilometers from the scene. Another group of injured people was taken to the Red Cross.

Rescue personnel went to the building to assess the damage, which according to various reports are considerable. At the time of the explosion there were many people in the facility, since it was lunchtime. The B2 building consists of 12 floors, three of which were seriously affected.

This is a building attached to the main tower of 53 floors, the second tallest building in Mexico and the third in Latin America. In total, 13,000 people work at the headquarters of Pemex, which has stopped all operations at its headquarters until further notice.

The Mexican Army cordoned off the entire area. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, visited the site of the explosion and then headed to the Azcapotzalco hospital. Meanwhile, the director of the parastatal, Emilio Lozoya Austin, who was in South Korea at the time of the event, flew back to Mexico City.

The oil company issued a statement, that “experts of the Attorney General of the Republic analyzed the causes of the incident,” but five hours after authorities gave no concrete explanation.

In principle, the hypothesis was that an accumulation of gas used to power an electrical substation was what caused the explosion.

Several rescue workers equipped with dogs had planned to work through the night removing debris. At the stroke of ten o’clock at night, rescue efforts had to be suspended temporarily and hundreds of members of rescue teams were removed from the site by an alarm that warned about the risk of collapse at the building most affected by the explosion.

Just hours before the explosion, the Twitter account was published the following message: “The Chief Operating Officer, Carlos Murrieta, said that we have reduced the accident rate in recent years.” Another message, also issued Thursday in the social network, said: “It is an achievement for Pemex to maintain safety indicators below the international standard.”

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About Luis Miranda
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