News Column

Death Toll in Pemex Blast Rises to 32

Feb. 1, 2013

The death toll in an explosion at the headquarters of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in central Mexico City reached 32 on Friday, said Emilio Lozoya, managing director of the state oil company.

Rescue teams found seven bodies overnight and continued to work in the rubble of the 12-floor building where the blast happened Thursday. Lozoya told a press conference 1,700 people worked in the affected tower, one of five buildings in the Pemex corporate complex. A total of up to 250 people worked in the four floors that were ravaged in the blast.

A further 121 people were injured in the explosion, of whom 52 remained in hospital Friday, said Lozoya. Rescue teams were still searching for people missing in the rubble.

Pemex's top executive, who appeared before reporters in the company's headquarters with a black ribbon on his chest, cut short an Asian tour to return to Mexico after the explosion.

The cause of the blast in the basement at 3.45 pm (2145 GMT) was not immediately known. Lozoya said the army, the navy and Mexican and foreign experts were involved in the investigation.

"We expect the results of the investigation to be made public as results emerge," he said. "We will not speculate and we will not rush ahead."

Other activity was suspended Friday at Pemex headquarters, although the company continued "to operate normally in terms of distribution and production," Lozoya said.

The president of the union of oil workers, Moises Flores, told local media Thursday that the explosion took part in a boiler and spoke of negligence in maintaining the heating and air-conditioning system.

With revenues of 32 billion dollars last year, Pemex is one of the largest energy companies in the world. It is responsible for overseeing the extraction and sale of Mexico's oil and produces 2.57 million barrels of oil per day.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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