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Death toll up to 33 in Mexico Pemex HQ explosion

ICIS News : 1-Feb-13 22:31

(Updates death toll)

MEDELLIN, Colombia (ICIS)--The death toll has risen to 33 following an explosion that ripped through Pemex’s Mexico City administrative headquarters on Thursday, the director general of the state-run energy company said on Friday.

Emilio Lozoya Austin told a news conference that a total of 121 people had been injured in the blast, 52 of whom were still in hospital.

Search-and-rescue missions were still on the ground, the executive said, adding that all resources and efforts would be used to ensure that no one remains trapped in the debris.

Earlier, Pemex confirmed that the explosion occurred at the B2 tower of the administrative centre at 15:40 hours local time (21:40 hours GMT), causing severe damage to the ground floor, the basement and mezzanine building.

The director general said it was too early to comment on the possible causes of the blast at the 54-story building.

“An accident like yesterday’s cannot be explained in two hours,” Austin said. “We are not going not speculate.”

Pemex guaranteed on Friday that there would be no disruption to operations and its production processes, and its response and execution capacity will continue “without irregularities".

“I wish to stress that Pemex is operating normally, in terms of supply and production of raw materials, fuels and derivatives,” Austin said.

Earlier, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said he had issued instructions to the authorities to call on national and international experts to assist in the investigations.

“We are using all the resources at our disposal to investigate and understand the causes of the disaster,” the minister said. “We will await the outcome of expert witnesses, and with transparency you will be informed.”

Chong would not comment on speculation in the Mexican press that the explosion could have been caused by a bomb.

“It would be an irresponsibility -- a big irresponsibility, without complete and sufficient facts -- to disclose any information that we do not know,” he said.

By Simon West

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