Apr 21, 2016 12:22 AM

3 killed, dozens hurt in blast at Mexico petrochemical plant

The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) An explosion rocked a petrochemical plant on Mexico's southern Gulf coast, causing evacuations in the area as a fire billowed a toxin-filled cloud into the air. Officials said three workers died and more than 100 people were injured.

The state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, said 136 workers had been hurt and three were killed in the blast Wednesday afternoon in the industrial port city of Coatzacoalcos. Eighty-eight of the injured remained hospitalized.

Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte also told Radio Formula that there were three fatalities.

The blast was felt as far as 6 miles (10 kilometers) away, Duarte said, adding that more than 2,000 people were evacuated from the area as a precaution.

Pemex reported the fire under control by early evening, but initially urged people to stay away from the area as a precaution.

"The cloud that emanated from the PMV plant in Coatzacoalcos is dissipating rapidly, which means it is losing its toxic effects," it said via its Twitter account.

Although a smoky haze could be seen over the plant Wednesday night, the company later said there was no longer any danger to people nearby.

Still, local officials canceled classes at area schools for Thursday.

Pemex said explosion occurred in the Clorados 3 plant of Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo. It said the plant is operated by another company, Mexichem, in partnership with Pemex. The plant produces vinyl chloride, a hazardous industrial chemical that is used to make PVC pipes and for other purposes.

The Veracruz state Health Department said in a statement that two patients were in grave condition Wednesday night from burns to their air passages from toxic gases. Others were treated for minor burns, contusions and broken bones.

There have been a number of accidents in recent years at facilities owned by Pemex or where it operates. In early February, a fire killed a worker at the same facility. Also in February, two people were killed and eight injured in a fire on an offshore Pemex platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

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