24 Dead in Mexico Petrochemical Plant Blast, 8 Still Missing
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The death toll from an explosion that ripped through a petrochemical plant on Mexico's southern Gulf coast is now 24, state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos reported.
Pemex raised the toll late Thursday from the 13 fatalities previously known and said eight workers remained missing. It also said 19 people remained hospitalized, with 13 of them in serious condition.
In a statement, the company said 12 of the bodies had been identified and eight of them delivered to family members, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier in the day, President Enrique Pena Nieto toured the facility in the industrial port city of Coatzacoalcos and met with relatives desperate for word on the fate of loved ones still unaccounted for.
About 30 families gathered at a plant entrance road, where a sharp chemical smell still hung in the air about 2 kilometers (a mile) from where the explosion occurred Wednesday afternoon. Many wore facemasks to ward off the pungent odor.
Shoving broke out as people unsuccessfully tried to force their way into the installation. Some shouted at marines and soldiers who were called in to guard the facility, and they threw rocks at a white government SUV when it arrived at the scene.
Pemex said Thursday night that it was prioritizing the safety of those inspecting the plant and teams were still gradually gaining access to more parts of the site.
The blast forced evacuations of nearby areas as it sent a toxin-filled cloud billowing into the air and injuring more than 100 workers.
Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, Pemex's director, told Radio Formula that the explosion was caused by a leak of an as-yet unknown origin.
The Clorados 3 plant of Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo, where the explosion happened, produces the hazardous industrial chemical vinyl chloride.
In early February, a fire killed a worker at the same facility.