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Blast at Mexico's Pemex headquarters kills at least 14

January 31, 2013|By Tracy Wilkinson
  • Firefighters search for survivors after an explosion at the headquarters of Mexico's state-owned oil company Pemex in Mexico City.
Firefighters search for survivors after an explosion at the headquarters… (Guillermo Gutierrez / Associated…)

MEXICO CITY -- A strong explosion Thursday rocked one of Mexico City's tallest skyscrapers, a tower that houses the state oil conglomerate, killing at least 14 employees and injuring dozens more, a top official said.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said the cause of the blast, which heavily damaged the first two floors of an administrative building adjacent to the 54-story tower, was under investigation. The complex is headquarters of Petroleos de Mexico, or Pemex, the troubled but powerful state oil monopoly.

Osorio said 14 people were killed in the explosion, which apparently occurred in a basement garage, and that more than 80 people were being treated at hospitals.

Rescue dogs were being used to search for victims trapped in the debris. Smoke wrapped around the tower as ambulances and helicopters rushed to the scene. Top federal and city government officials also hurried to the chaotic site.

“I was working in my office and suddenly there was an explosion and glass and pieces of concrete began falling,” one unidentified employee told Milenio television. “I hope my co-workers are OK.”

More than 3,500 people were reported evacuated from the complex, which is west of downtown. Streets in the vicinity were closed.

Earlier, Eduardo Sanchez, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the tower was not in danger of collapsing. News media speculation on the causes of the blast focused on a gas leak or faulty mechanical equipment in the basement, but Osorio cautioned against premature explanations.

“We cannot yet explain the motives,” he said, adding that investigators would be focusing on the basement area.


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