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Death toll in Pemex headquarters explosion climbs to 33

02 February 2013, Sweetcrude, Houston – Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto spoke on an office explosion at the Pemex headquarters in Mexico City on Friday as the state oil company said the death toll had climbed to 33.

Pena Nieto, who has made reform at the state-run oil company a priority following his election, said Friday afternoon he had visited with the injured in the hospital.

“I repeat my solidarity and support to the families of those who tragically perished in this event,” Pena Nieto said on his Twitter feed.

“The priority at the moment is to attend to the injured and assure the safety of those who are working there,” he added in an official statement.

Pemex confirmed via its Twitter feed Friday afternoon that another person had been killed in the explosion.

It also pledged to pay all bills for those being treated in private hospitals and assist in providing funeral services.

The search continues for bodies and survivors at the 52-storey tower in the Mexican capital which was rocked by the blast on Thursday afternoon, leaving over 100 injured.

Pemex director-general Emilio Lozoya Austin cut short his visit to Asia, where the company was getting delivery of tankers, to visit the scene, arriving back in the country late on Thursday.

At an arranged press conference early on Friday morning in Mexico, Lozoya Austin said the number of dead has now risen from 25 to 32. The dead comprise 20 women and 12 men. So far 20 of the deceased have been positively identified, he said.

Lozoya Austin said 121 people were injured with 52 hospitalised.

“Pemex is deeply shocked by the tragedy yesterday. Personally I am very shocked, and I express my deepest condolences to the deceased and my solidarity with their families,” he said.

The investigation in the deadly blast is “very complex,” but officials will spare no effort in investigating the explosion, Lozoya Austin continued.

“We are working with the best (teams) from Mexico and abroad,” he said, as crews dig through the rubble and investigators begin collecting evidence to reconstruct the events surrounding the blast.

The Pemex executive made the statement even as the country’s President Enrique Pena Nieto urged the public not to speculate over the cause of the blast that left 121 injured.

“This afternoon we will be providing more information over (Thursday’s) events,” the Pemex boss said, a black mourning ribbon pinned to his white shirt. “Our priority is the wounded and the victims.”

The statements were transmitted via the official Mexican Presidential website.

The cause of the blast at the company’s headquarters on Avenida Marina is as yet unknown, but government officials have not yet ruled out terrorism.

Pemex said soon after the incident that production and operations would continue as normal. Lozoya Austin repeated this on Friday morning, pointing to continued production of 2.57 million barrels

per day.

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