Mexico oil plant blast toll rises to 13

Image of large plume of smoke in Veracruz, Mexico - 20 April 2016Image copyright
Veracruz Ministry of Public Security

Image caption

A number of other blasts have hit Pemex facilities in recent years

The official death toll in an explosion that struck a state oil plant in Mexico on Wednesday has risen to 13.

The head of Mexico’s emergency services, Luis Felipe Puente, said 10 bodies were found when emergency services entered the site. Three workers had already been reported dead.

The blast hit a facility in the southern city of Coatzacoalcos.

More than 100 people were injured and hundreds had to leave homes. The cause of the explosion is not yet clear.

Footage showed a large fire and huge plumes of smoke.

The facility is owned by Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex. Several explosions have been reported at Pemex facilities in recent years.

Mr Puente tweeted on Thursday: “We have examined the affected area and can say that unfortunately so far there are 13 people dead.”

The incident occurred at around 15:15 local time (20:15 GMT) on Wednesday. Veracruz state Governor Javier Duarte told a radio station the blast was felt 10km (six miles) away.

In pictures: Mexico explosion

The fire was under control by early evening, Pemex said. Residents were told to stay indoors because of the possible toxic nature of the smoke from the blast, but Pemex said the smoke dissipated quickly, lessening any possible toxic effects.

On Thursday the company said there was no longer any danger from the smoke.

Pemex said the part of the factory hit by the explosion was managed by a sister company, Mexichem.

Associated Press reported that the plant produces vinyl chloride, a dangerous chemical used to make PVC pipes and packaging materials.

Exports of oil from the plant, one of the largest terminals for oil distribution in Mexico, would not be affected, the company added.

In September 2012, an explosion then a fire at a gas plant in the northern state of Tamaulipas killed 33 people.

Pemex’s own headquarters in Mexico City was hit by a large gas blast in January 2013, killing 37 people.

A number of fires also struck the company’s rigs in the Gulf of Mexico last year, and a worker was killed in another fire at the Veracruz plant in February this year.

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