Pemex raises Mexico petrochemical plant death toll to 28

Mexico oil giant Pemex says death toll at petrochemical plant explosion rises to 28

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A view of an area damaged by an explosion at Mexican national oil company Pemex's Pajaritos petrochemical complex in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state, Mexico.

The death toll at a Mexico petrochemical plant blast amid a recent fire outbreak in southeastern oil hub of Coatzacoalcos has risen to 28,  the state oil giant Pemex said on Friday.

The massive fire accident occurred on Wednesday afternoon at the facility's chlorinate 3 plant in the Gulf state of Veracruz, diffusing a dark cloud of smoke hundreds of meters into the air and giving off a powerful smell of ammonia.

Pemex said in a statement that it had identified 25 bodies and that three more were still unidentified. It added that 18 people remained hospitalised. Pemex has said the accident was caused by a leak, but has not fully explained what happened.

The oil firm said it would continue to scour the blast site, but that progress was slow, given the scale of the damage.

The blast occurred at a vinyl petrochemical plant that is a joint venture between Pemex's petrochemical unit and majority owner Mexican plastic pipe maker Mexichem. Pemex operates the larger petrochemical complex where the plant was located, known as Pajaritos.

The plant produces some 900 tons a day of vinyl chloride monomer, also known as chloroethene, an industrial chemical used to produce plastic piping. The joint venture had forecast sales of $260 million this year.

In February, a fire killed a worker at the same plant, the latest in a litany of safety disasters that have plagued Pemex.

A 2015 fire at its Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Bay of Campeche affected oil output and cost the company up to $780 million. 

In 2013, at least 37 people were killed by a blast at its Mexico City headquarters, and 26 people died in a fire at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico in September 2012.

TRTWorld, Reuters