[QODLink]
Americas

Explosion hits Mexico oil giant headquarters

At least 25 killed and 100 others injured after explosion rocked skyscraper of state oil company Pemex in Mexico City.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2013 12:15

At least 25 people have been killed after an explosion rocked the skyscraper that houses the headquarters of Mexican oil giant Pemex in Mexico City, the country's interior minister has said.

"We have up to now 25 people dead - 17 women and eight men," Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told reporters, adding that 101 people were injured.

The state-owned company said the cause of the deadly incident was under investigation and declared that any reports on the origin of the blast amounted to speculation.

"What took place was an explosion in the B2 building of the administrative centre. There are injuries and damage on the ground floor and mezzanine," Pemex said.

Dozens of employees were believed to be still trapped inside the building, more than 50 floors high, and rescue workers said the death toll could keep rising.

Emergency teams with rescue dogs, helicopters and several ambulances were at the scene.

Heavy damage

Almost six hours after the blast, President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Twitter that "one more person was rescued alive in the rubble".

"I don't have any conclusive report on the cause, which is why I insist against any speculation," Pena Nieto told reporters after visiting the site.

A spokesman for the civil protection agency said there was an apparent "accumulation of gas" in an electrical supply room.

Television images showed heavy damage on the tower's ground floor and people being carted away on stretchers and office chairs.

"It was dramatic. The building was shaking and suddenly there was debris. We couldn't even see the people next to us," Pemex employee and union member Cristian Obele told reporters.

Pemex, the world's fourth-largest producer of crude with around 2.5 million barrels per day, announced earlier that it had evacuated the building due to a power failure.

The company has experienced deadly accidents at its oil and gas facilities in the past.

Last year, a huge explosion killed 30 people at a gas plant near the northern city of Reynosa, close to the US border.

The previous worst incident took place in December 2010, when an oil pipeline exploded after it was punctured by thieves in the central town of San Martin Texmelucan, leaving 29 dead and injuring more than 50.

In October 2007, 21 Pemex workers died during a gas leak on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Most drowned when they jumped into the sea in panic.

411

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.