An explosion has ripped through a petrochemical plant on the Gulf of Mexico’s southern coast, killing three people, injuring dozens and sending a toxin-filled cloud into the air.
State oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) said 58 workers were hurt in the mid-afternoon blast in the industrial port city of Coatzacoalcos on Wednesday.
Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte told Radio Formula that three people had lost their lives and tweeted that 105 people were injured, including the 58 workers.
The blast was felt as far as six miles away, Mr Duarte said, adding that more than 2,000 people were evacuated from the area as a precaution.
By early evening the fire was reported under control, but Pemex still urged people to stay away from the area. Officials cancelled Thursday’s classes at local schools.
“The cloud that emanated from the PMV plant in Coatzacoalcos is dissipating rapidly, which means it is losing its toxic effects,” the company said.
The plant produces vinyl chloride, a hazardous industrial chemical that is used to make PVC pipes and for other purposes.
In early February a fire killed a worker at the same facility.
Pemex said the explosion happened at 3:15pm at the Clorados 3 plant of Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo. The plant is operated by another company, Mexichem, in partnership with Pemex.
Twenty of the injured workers were treated in a company clinic in Coatzacoalcos and 38 taken to nearby hospitals.
The Veracruz state health department said two patients were in a grave condition after suffering burns to their air passages from toxic gases. Others were treated for injuries including minor burns, bruising and broken bones.
There have been a number of accidents in recent years at plants owned by Pemex or where it operates.
Also in February, the company reported two people killed and eight injured in a fire on an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
In September 2012 an explosion followed by a fire at a gas plant in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas outside the city of Reynosa, near the border with the United States, killed 26 people.
A similar accident occurred the previous week at a nearby plant owned by Pemex, injuring four workers.
Illegal tapping at pipelines in northern Mexico, usually carried out by criminal gangs, is the cause of many accidents at Pemex facilities.