The death toll from the explosion at the oil refinery in the Mexican state of Veracruz near the port of Coatzacoalcos has risen to 24. Of the 136 wounded, 13 are serious, with another 18 people anaccounted for, according to an April 21 report from the Mexican state oil company Pemex.
According to CEO Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, the cause of the explosion at the facility’s chlorinate 3 plant is not yet known. Anaya said, “We know that there was a leak, but we do not know the cause, though everything points to an accident.” He denied that the explosion has to do with the economic problems of the company, which is suffering from the dramatic drop in crude oil prices.
The blast occurred at a vinyl petrochemical unit that is a joint venture between Pemex’s petrochemical unit and majority owner Mexican plastic pipe maker Mexichem. Pemex operates the larger complex where the plant was located, known as Pajaritos. The plant produces approximately 900 tons per day of vinyl chloride monomer, also known as chloroethane, used to produce plastic piping.
Pemex previously announced that the disaster does not affect the export of oil. In 2013, dozens of people were killed in a gas explosion at the Pemex headquarters in Mexico City.