February 1, 2013 in Nation/World

25 dead, 101 injured at Pemex headquarters

Michael Weissenstein And Olga R. Rodriguez Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Firefighters belonging to the Tacubaya sector and workers dig for victims after an explosion in Mexico City on Thursday.
(Full-size photo)

MEXICO CITY – Rescuers searched the rubble for survivors and authorities promised a thorough investigation after an office building blast killed 25 people and injured 101 Thursday at the headquarters of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos.

The cause of the basement explosion in an administrative building next to the iconic, 51-story Pemex tower in Mexico City remained a mystery early today, with President Enrique Pena Nieto urging people not to speculate.

Theories ranged from an electrical fire to an air conditioning problem to a possible attack.

“We have no conclusive report on the reason,” Pena Nieto told reporters. “We will work to get to the bottom of the investigation to find out, first, what happened … and if there are people responsible in this case, that we apply the full weight of the law against them.”

Some 46 people remained hospitalized after the blast, some gravely injured and others with cuts, fractures and burns. Authorities said the dead were 17 women and eight men.

More than 500 firefighters, soldiers and rescue workers dug through chunks of concrete with dogs, trucks and a Pemex crane.

Interior Minister Miguel Osorio Chong said it was uncertain if any of the roughly 10,000 people who work in the five-building headquarters were still trapped, but that the search would continue.

The explosion occurred at about 3:45 p.m., just as the administrative shift was about to end. It hit the basement and first two floors, which rescuers said all collapsed onto each other.

“There is a lot of risk,” rescuer German Vazquez Garcia said of working on the site.

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