Chemical plant explosion kills 13 in Mexico

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A huge explosion occurred on Wednesday at a Mexican petrochemical plant which forced the evacuation of surrounding neighborhoods.
The death toll has risen to 13, authorities said.

Mexico’s national coordinator of civil protection, Luis Felipe Puente, tweeted the revised death toll after visiting the facility in the port of Coatzacoalcos early on Thursday.

Officials and management at the facility had said earlier that three people had been killed in the blast and 136 injured, of whom 88 remained hospitalized.

The explosion at the Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo facility in the southern state of Veracruz sent large plumes of dark smoke and toxic fumes across the region.

Javier Duarte, governor of the state of Veracruz, said that the blast was felt about 10 kilometers (six miles) away.

Emergency protocols were put in place, with surrounding municipalities evacuated and schools closed in others, officials said.
Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo is a joint venture between Mexican petrochemicals consortium Mexichem and state oil firm Pemex.

A government Twitter account showed photos of plant workers being evacuated from the facility in a convoy.

Pemex said on its Twitter account that the fire had been brought under control by early Wednesday evening and that the plume of toxic smoke was dissipating quickly.

Veracruz government spokesman Raul Gutierrez said that emergency personnel were collaborating with Pemex to evaluate the extent of the damage from the explosion.

It has not been clarified what caused the blast.

The blast was only the latest of several incidents reported at facilities linked to the Mexican state oil company in recent years.

In 2013, at least 37 people were killed in a blast at Pemex’s headquarters in Mexico City, and a year earlier, dozens were killed in a fire at a Pemex gas facility in the state of Tamaulipas.

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