Death toll increases to 36 in Mexico Pemex blast

04 February 2013 20:58  [Source: ICIS news]

MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--The death toll has risen to 36 following last Thursday’s explosion that tore through state oil company Pemex’s main office complex in Mexico City, the country’s president said on Monday.

“One more body has been retrieved from the rubble,” Enrique Pena Nieto said in a message on Twitter. “My deepest condolences go to all the families of the victims.”

The president had earlier declared three days of national mourning for the victims.

Pemex confirmed that a total of 121 people were injured in the blast, 91 of whom had already been discharged from hospital. Mexican daily El Universal reported on Monday that a 48-year-old woman was still missing.

Pemex Director General Emilio Lozoya Austin said that 200 to 250 people worked on the four floors of the B2 administrative centre that were affected by the blast. About 10,000 people work in the entire complex.

Work will resume at the complex on Tuesday, Pemex said, adding that those who normally work at the B2 building will be relocated to other offices.

Both the government and Pemex have so far refused to comment on possible causes of the blast. Speculation has ranged from a gas leak, an overheated air conditioning unit, sabotage and a terrorist attack.

The 31 January explosion is another blow to Pemex’s safety record, and will provide a test for Pena Nieto, who has promised to open up the company to more private investment.

Shortly after taking office in December, Pena Nieto signed a deal with the country’s two main opposition parties committing them to various economic reforms.

The "Pact for Mexico" included the promise of more competition in refining, petrochemicals and energy transportation. At the time, Pena Nieto emphasized that the three-party deal did not signify the privatization of Pemex.

Mexico’s congress was due to debate the reforms in the coming weeks; however, some experts believe these discussions could now be delayed.

By: Simon West

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