An explosion at the offices of Mexico’s state oil company Pemex late last week, which left at least 37 people dead and dozens more injured, was caused by a gas leak.
The Mexican government accounted on Monday that the Pemex explosion was caused by a gas leak, and that no trace of explosives could be found at the site.
“We have been able to determine that the explosion was caused by an accumulation of gas in the basement of the building,” said Attorney General Jesus Murillo at a press conference in Mexico city. He also added that the gas was thought to be methane, and that it may have leaked from containers in a storage facility next door, which was connected to the offices by a tunnel. The gas may also have come from an old pipe running through the building, or from sewage in the ground underneath the building. This gas is thought to have been ignited by contractors working on supports under the building.
Pemex, a Mexican state monopoloy, has a poor safety record. A number of deadly explosions at Pemex facilities over recent years have drawn criticism, but this blast – which took place in the center of Mexico’s capital – is likely to produce much stronger public calls for the company to reform and overhaul its ageing infrastructure.
“It’s probably going to be positive for the reform, it underlines the need for Pemex to invest in its own capital spending,” said Murillo.
Despite Pemex’s poor safety record, conspiracy theories proved to be popular with the Mexican public in the immediate aftermath of the blast. Many believed that the blast may have been an act of Sabotage, with some suggesting that the country’s infamous drug gangs may have been somehow involved. These sabotage theory has now been ruled out, however, with the confirmation that the blast was caused by a gas leak.