At last fourteen people are dead after an explosion rocked the administrative headquarters of state-owned firm PEMEX in Mexico City.
According to government officials the blast injured over 100 people and the death toll is expected to rise. Rescuers are attempting to reach some thirty people who are trapped in the basement level.
At around 3:55 PM local time the explosion shook the building adjacent to the 52-storey PEMEX tower. A large plume of smoke rose into the air while three of the floors received extensive damage.
Approximately 3500 people were evacuated from the PEMEX complex and hundreds of police have cordoned off the area.
"It was an explosion, a shock, the lights went out and suddenly there was a lot of debris," employee Cristian Obele told Mexican TV, according to The Guardian.
The cause of the explosion is unknown though initial reports allege that it may have been an overheated air conditioning unit or a buildup of natural gas.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong and Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebard surveyed the damage in the evening. Peña Nieto had previously tweeted that he “deeply regrets the deaths of Pemex workers and colleagues.”
Thursday’s blast comes about four months after thirty people died due to an explosion at a PEMEX natural gas plant in northern Mexico. Such incidents are a black eye against PEMEX according to a security analyst interviews by Reuters:
Alberto Islas, a security analyst at consultancy Risk Evaluation, said the explosion at the Pemex offices was another blot against the company's safety record.
"We've seen this time and again at Pemex. They don't have a well-integrated policy," Islas said, noting it would probably take several hours before investigators would be able to determine the cause of the explosion.Video Source– YouTube via Associated Press
Online Sources – Reuters, The Guardian, CNN