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Gas tanker explosion outside Mexico City maternity hospital kills three, injures 73

30 January 2015

A gas explosion on January 29 outside a maternity and children's hospital in Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, killed a nurse and two babies, and injured dozens more. Much of the building was destroyed, with around 100 people said to have been inside the hospital at the time of the blast. Rescuers were still at the scene the following day, searching for anyone trapped under the rubble.

Stock image
Stock image

Mexico City health secretary Armando Ahued said a nurse and a baby died on the spot and a second baby succumbed from injuries in another hospital. He said another 73 people were injured and that nine babies were in a serious condition.

The truck's three operators were detained, and two of them are in hospital. Their employer was identified as Nieto Express.

Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said a bigger tragedy was avoided because many people had been evacuated from the hospital before the gas leak turned into an explosion.

Mancera said the blast had been caused by a leak in a hose carrying gas from the tanker to the hospital kitchen. The tanker workers had been struggling to repair the hose for about 15 to 20 minutes. As they worked, a large cloud of gas began to form outside the hospital, reports said.

The mayor said the search would continue until authorities are "100 per cent" certain no one else is trapped under the rubble.The hospital was a public one, used by patients who did not have the money to pay for private healthcare.

Mexico has been hit by other gas explosion tragedies in recent years.

In February 2013, 37 people died in the headquarters of the state energy firm Pemex in Mexico City following a gas build-up in the skyscraper's basement. In May 2013, 25 people died when a gas tanker's container came loose on a highway north of Mexico City, setting nearby homes and cars on fire.

Last year, three people died in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas when a gas leak caused an explosion in a shopping centre.

Update: The Mexico City chief prosecutor’s office said on February 16 the explosion of a gas tanker outside a Mexico City maternity hodspital was caused by two worn-out bolts on a pipe flange connected to the truck's pump.

Experts said wire and Teflon tape had been improperly used on parts of the truck's valves, the bolts were the wrong size, and the truck's gas meter had been altered to short-change customers.

The company concerned could face fines of up to $2.8 million and have its operating permit cancelled.

By February 16, five people had been killed by the explosion and another 70 injured.

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