32 Die in Mexico Oil Company Office Building Blast

From The San Francisco Chronicle

By Mark Stevenson

A blast that collapsed the lower floors of a building in the headquarters of Mexico’s state-owned oil company, crushing 32 people beneath tons of rubble and injuring 121, is being looked at as an accident although all lines of investigation remain open, the head of Petroleos Mexicanos said Friday.

As hundreds of emergency workers dug through the rubble, the company’s worst disaster in a decade was fueling debate about the state of Pemex, a vital source of government revenue that is suffering from decades of underinvestment and has been hit by a recent series of accidents that have tarnished its otherwise improving safety record. Virtually all have hit its petroleum infrastructure, not office buildings.

“It seems like, from what experts can observe, is that it was an accident,” Pemex Director-General Emilio Lozoya told the Televisa network. “However no line of investigation will be discounted.”

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has pledged to open the oil behemoth to more private and foreign investment, setting off warnings among leftists about the privatization of an enterprise seen as one of the pillars of the Mexican state. Pena Nieto has provided few details of the reform he will propose but denies any plan to privatize Pemex.

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