Latin America & Caribbean

Blast at Pemex gas plant in Mexico claims more lives

Burnt out Pemex gas tanks at the Petroleos Mexicans pipeline distribution centre
Image caption Investigations into the causes of the blast continue

More workers in Mexico have died from their wounds following a blast that set off a blaze at a gas plant, bringing the death toll to 30.

Twenty-five people are still in hospital. State-run oil company Pemex says that all those who had been missing are now accounted for.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has ordered an investigation into Tuesday's blast in northern Tamaulipas state.

Pemex has ruled out foul play, saying it was an "unfortunate accident".

The plant sustained serious damage and could take a month to restart operations, Pemex said.

In an interview with Mexican radio, Pemex executive Carlos Morales said the firm would have to import more natural gas from the US.

The company had already been importing increasing amounts to meet higher gas demand and make up for shortages, he said.

'Catastrophe averted'

Pemex said preliminary investigations suggested that the blast near the town of Reynosa had been caused by a build-up of gas.

Pemex Director Juan Jose Suarez said that there was "no evidence that it was a deliberate incident, or some kind of attack".

Company officials said that maintenance work had been carried out on the plant just minutes prior to the explosion.

President Calderon praised the emergency workers, who he said had managed to contain the fire before it could spread to the massive tanks of a neighbouring gas processing plant.

There have been several fires at Mexican refineries over the past month.

While investigations into those blazes have not yet concluded, preliminary evidence suggests they could have been caused by thieves tapping the lines to steal petrol.

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