GUADALAJARA, MEXICO – The death toll from a gas facility explosion and fire in northern Mexico has risen to 29, El Universal reported today.
At least 46 others were injured in Tuesday’s blast at the gas pipeline distribution center near the city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state.
Initial reports put the death toll at 10.
Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, also known as Pemex, which owns the facility, said the explosion appears to have been caused by an accidental leak, not sabotage, the Associated Press reported.
"There is no evidence that the explosion was provoked, but rather that it was an accident," Pemex chief executive Juan Jose Suarez Coppel told reporters after touring the site.
A number of blazes at Pemex facilities have been triggered by criminals illegally tapping pipelines with the intention of stealing oil products.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon praised emergency workers for their quick response to the blast, which he said had prevented an even greater tragedy from happening.
“The timely response by oil workers, firefighters and the Mexican army was able to control the fire relatively quickly and avoid a real catastrophe of bigger proportions and greater damages if the fire had spread to the center for gas processing, which is right there,” Calderon said in Mexico City.
Reuters reported that it was the third blaze in about five weeks at a Pemex facility in Tamaulipas.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control this afternoon.
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