Explosion kills 20, injures 36 in Mexico

Mexico City, May 7 (EFE).- At least 20 people were killed and 36 others injured when a fuel truck exploded Tuesday in Ecatepec, a city in central Mexico, officials said.

Initial reports said 18 people died in the accident, but Mexico state Attorney General Miguel Angel Contreras later said the death toll had risen.

Mexico state surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area.

The explosion occurred between the communities of San Pedro Xalostoc and Santa Clara on the Mexico City-Pachuca highway, officials said.

The fuel truck apparently collided with another vehicle, causing a "pretty powerful explosion" that was felt "over several blocks," Ecatepec Mayor Pablo Bedolla told Milenio Television.

At least 27 houses were affected by the blast, Bedolla said in a Twitter posting.

"I want to remind you that we are still assessing the damaged dwellings," the mayor said.

President Enrique Peña Nieto, a former governor of Mexico state, expressed his condolences to the families of the dead during an appearance on Tuesday in Mexico City.

"This is a very sad number and from here we express our solidarity with the relatives" of the victims, the president said at the opening of the 5th Summit on Security and Justice.

The accident happened around 5:00 a.m. when the driver of the Termogas truck lost control and hit several other vehicles, igniting his load of fuel and setting off a huge blast and fire.

About 550 local, state and federal law enforcement agents, along with army troops, Red Cross paramedics and emergency management office personnel, were deployed to deal with the accident.